Thursday, December 1, 2016

10 Holiday Ways To Warm Up, Wind Down And WIN A Year's Supply of Stephen's Gourmet Hot Cocoa

Time To ChiIL Out in Chi, IL On Stephen's Gourmet Hot Cocoa Blog Tour!

Here at ChiIL Mama we discovered Stephen's Gourmet Hot Cocoa by chance, right around this time last year at our local grocery. We were so impressed we returned and bought loads of different flavors as stocking stuffers for everyone on our holiday gift list! That's why we jumped at the chance to partner up with Stephen's Gourmet Hot Cocoa this season via the Mom It Forward Blogger Network, on a sponsored post and giveaway. We have been compensated for our participation in the Stephen's Gourmet Hot Cocoa Blog Tour campaign. As always, all opinions are our own.

Click here and enter to

Here in Chicago, IL, we tend to have long, cold snowy winters and cocoa is a time honored seasonal favorite for all ages. No matter where you spend winter, Stephen’s Gourmet Cocoa is a cozy way to warm up and wind down.


Here are 10 of our favorite ways to hibernate indoors through the bitter dark, cold months, and all pair well with Stephen’s Gourmet Cocoa.

1. Play With Pretend Snow
Live in a no snow zone or facing a forecast free of the white stuff? Grab a box of soap flakes and create some snow angels, snowball fights and frostbite free fun! Even though you won't technically "need" to warm up, nothing tops off a game of pretend like a real chocolaty treat. We recommend Stephen’s Gourmet CandyCane or Mint Truffle Hot Cocoa.

2. Fort Fun
Cozy up with a couch cushion, pillow, chair and blanket fort and hibernate. Even the teens and adults love reliving this childhood fav. It's a great place to read, play games or binge watch episodes. You may not want to come out till spring! Take turns serving trays of Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa.

3. Gather Round The Fire 
Nothing says cozy like a hearth fire. We love to gaze at the flames, read stories aloud, and sing songs together. If you don't have a fireplace, think about making a winter fire pit or fire ring outdoors. If that's not possible you can still make S'mores on the stove top, with a fondue pot, or with a freestanding S'mores maker. Fire fun is the perfect pairing with Stephen’s Gourmet S'mores Hot Cocoa.

4. Imaginary Airplane Ride
Can't afford to leave town and sick of your endless "staycation". Little kids LOVE to take an imaginary airplane ride. Create your jet from a cardboard box and a fan for effect, or go minimalist with pairs of chairs lined up and create an activity pocket on the back of each one, full of fun travel games. You can get detailed with passports, games, food and crafts from different countries, and of course "in flight drink service" featuring trays of Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa.

5. Puppy Love
Cold weather's the perfect time to spend extra hours enjoying your pets. Romp in the snow with your pups, cuddle your kittens, gather your Guinea Pigs or borrow your friends' fur babies for a snuggle. After you've had you fill of furry friends, Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa is a dog gone good way to warm up.

6. Marooned
Place a large blanket on the floor and pretend it's your life raft or your island. Bring snacks, activities and plenty of Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa. Then take the challenge and see how long you can stay "marooned" together and not leave the blanket! 

7. Family Game Night
Families today are so tech connected it's hard sometimes to ditch the screen time and play together. We make a point of finding fun board games, card games, and low tech fun. Even when our game nights begin with grumbling they usually wind up with loads of laughter and new memories created. 

8. Show Business
Make up a talent show or reenact a favorite movie using toys and objects around the house. Film it and play it back with popcorn and Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa. My kids filmed their own hilarious version of Harry Potter a few years back and it's become a lasting family favorite! 

9. I scream for Ice Cream
Or should I say "Snow Cream"? If you've got fresh white stuff coming down, put a bowl outside to gather it, top it off with hot fudge, caramel, fresh fruit or a topping of your choice, and enjoy! Got brain freeze? Follow it up with Stephen’s Gourmet Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa, the most delicious snow melter ever.


10. Deck the Halls
Decorating for the holidays is great multigenerational fun. No matter what you celebrate, enjoy being together and celebrate family. If Santa's heading your way, don't forget to leave him a mug of steaming Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa, a plate of cookies, a thank you note, and some carrots for those hard workin' reindeer!

Why Try Stephen’s Gourmet Cocoa?
Every cup of cocoa you drink has to live up to the first one you had as a kid. Now that’s a tough job! Other cocoas might come close, but Stephen’s will set your new cocoa standard! Our cocoa is rich, creamy and quite simply the tastiest you’ve ever had. We are continually introducing new and unique flavors, as well as cocoa innovations like our Single-cups for Keurig®-style coffee makers. Stephens also offers a special selection of delicious ciders, whose traditional (and not-so-traditional) flavors make the perfect drink for any holiday.

Stephen’s Gourmet Cocoa helps make your holiday season memorable. Use it for the following:
• Stephen’s Cocoa makes a perfect neighbor, office or teacher gift.
• With so many unique and fun cocoa flavors, Stephen’s Cocoa is the perfect treat to serve at holiday parties, post sledding or snowman, or any time you need a delicious way to warm up.
• Stephen’s cocoa can make any of your holiday recipes more delicious.

Some of Stephen’s Gourmet signature cocoa flavors include: 
Salted Caramel
Mint Truffle
Dark Chocolate

Get Social:
Got some creative ways to warm up, wind down and enjoy Stephen's Gourmet Cocoa? Like and follow their social media accounts and tag them when you post! 
  • Facebook: @StephensGourmet
  • Twitter: @StephensCocoa
  • Pinterest: stephensgourmet
  • Hashtag: #StephensCocoa

Once again, it's our great pleasure to partner up with Stephen's Gourmet Hot Cocoa this season via the Mom It Forward Blogger Networkon a sponsored post and giveaway. We have been compensated for our participation in this campaign. As always, all opinions are our own.

WIN BIG With Miss Jones Bake-it-Better Challenge With A $1,500 Grand Prize

Bake Organic Easy With Miss Jones Baking Co.

Here at ChiIL Mama we LOVE to bake (& eat) sweet treats, and rarely have the time to make goodies from scratch. That's why we were elated when Miss Jones Baking Co. asked us to partner up on this sponsored post and spread the word about their Bake-it-Better Challenge this holiday season. We were sent two decadently delicious chocolate cake mixes and Cinnamon Sugar Buttercream frosting 

to sample along with a fun t-shirt & bowl scraper. Miss Jones' baking mixes and frostings are organic, non-GMO, responsibly sourced, plant-based, and contain no artificial colors or flavors, so I feel confident I'm treating my family to the best. We also love to give back to those who are struggling, and every entry in Miss Jones Baking Co's Bake-it-Better Challenge means a $1 donation to the SF-Marin Food Bank.

ChiIL Mama created an easy Chocolate Cinnamon Sheet Cake 
with Seasonal Decorations added by my 13yo daughter, Sage
 (Cinnamon Imperials, Christmas DOTS, and Reese's Holiday Peanut Butter Trees)

Bake-it-Better Challenge
Calling all of ChiIL Mama's readers who adore baking. 
Comment and share your own creations and enter the contest to 
win an incredible Grand Prize, valued at over $1,500!

1. Bake up a treat of your choice using Miss Jones baking mix and/or frosting, and they will donate $1 to the SF-Marin Food Bank. 

2. Post your creation using the hashtag #betterwithmissjones on social media. Visit their website for more info. We can't wait to see your tasty treats (with the secret ingredient of creativity and a pinch of holiday cheer). Miss Jones also offers tons of recipes and inspiration online to get you started like candy cane Christmas cookies, maple cheesecake brownies, chocolate cake waffles, pumpkin cake bars, chocolate and pecan cupcakes, maple and walnut sugar cookies, and many other unique creations sure to wow the friends and family you're entertaining during prime baking season.  If you're submitting via Instagram, be sure to tag @missjonesco, too! If you're submitting via Facebook, be sure to post your entry directly onto the official Miss Jones Baking Co. Facebook page.

I was a vegetarian for 10 years and still have many vegan friends and friends with food allergies and other dietary restrictions, so I was thrilled to see that Miss Jones cake mixes offer loads of customized baking directions right on the box, like plant based milk substitutions and more. 

We'd never tried Cinnamon Sugar frosting before and it was fabulous with the chocolate cake. The cake we made was moist, flavorful and all around excellent, and the family devoured it in record time. I think we're going to attempt chocolate doughnuts with our 2nd box. 

Order their mixes easily on line. They even have gift sets in a range of prices, in case there's a master baker on your holiday gift list. We highly recommend Miss Jones Baking Co., so give them a taste. 

ChiIL Mama's submission to 
Miss Jones Baking Co.'s Bake-it-Better Challenge,
Easy Chocolate Cinnamon Sheet Cake with Seasonal Decorations 

From now through December 23, 
Miss Jones Baking Co. 
is holding the Bake-it-Better Challenge, 
which gives you the chance to win a Grand Prize 
worth over $1,500—including a $1,000 gift card, 
the full line of Miss Jones products, 
a KitchenAid Mixer, William-Sonoma Goldtouch Baking Set, 
Scharffen Berger Chocolates, and much more!

HELP OUT: Remember every entry means $1 donated to the SF-Marin Food Bank. At this time of year every little bit helps—so join in the fun and make the holiday season sweeter for everyone. 

That's it. For each entry containing the hashtag #betterwithmissjones, $1 goes to the SF-Marin Food Bank—and you can enter multiple times! 

Disclosure: It was a sweet treat to partner up with Miss Jones on this sponsored post. We were compensated with the goodies above, which included product samples to review, in exchange for spreading the word about their holiday contest to our readers. As always, all opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Groupon Coupons -- The Rhyme That Saves You Time

Want to save money on sites and stores you already love, or discover some new ones? Groupon Coupons is a simple time and money saver that makes so much sense. We've found long time favorites there like Things Remembered for personalized gifts and Claire's, where my daughter and I both got our ears pierced.


Here at ChiIL Mama we're elated to partner up with Groupon once again for this sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Have you checked out Groupon CouponsThings Remembered is my go to spot for personalized presents for special occasions and memorable teacher gifts. Back in the day I got my ears pierced at Claire's, and when my daughter was in kindergarten she did the same. We both found some fun Indonesian spiral earrings that summer at Summercamp Music Festival that look like gauges, but really have a post in the middle. We got so many comments and compliments! 


My all time favorite comment, however, was from our 4 year old friend, Gabby. She was fascinated and obsessed with my spirals, asking to touch them and curiously checking them out for days. Finally she asked what they were made of.

When I said, "They're carved horn." I could see the wheels turning in her brain.
She paused a few beats, then remarked, "Those must be really little sheep."

Find your favorites at Groupon Coupons.

Once again, here at ChiIL Mama we're elated to partner up with Groupon once again for this sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

TOMORROW: Major Knee Surgery 11/17

ChiIL Mama On Hiatus:

I'll be taking a bit of a medical related break from reviewing and shooting events, blogging and social media. I'm going in tomorrow for major left knee surgery. I hope to be back to promoting events from home within a week and out and about in a month or so, but that may be optimistic. We'll have to see how the healing's going. I am still running quite a few giveaways so enter early and often and we'll pick most of the winners in a couple weeks. 

Image from Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot
9 of wands reminds us of the importance of other people's contributions.

Today I'll be catching up on as much as humanly possible before surgery. Apologies if my 3" thick pile of to do lists doesn't get completely done. It's a fine juggling act between parenting, paid work, and passions like theatre and live music! See ya on the flip side.

Friday, November 11, 2016


ChiIL Mama's ChiIL Picks List:

Date: Saturday, November 12
Time: 10:00AM CT

Fathom Events is bringing Mickey Mouse and his Disney pals to the theater for Disney Junior at the Movies – Mickey’s BIG Celebration! On November 12 at theaters across the country, kids and parents will celebrate Mickey's birthday during this one-day interactive cinema event, where they will be invited to jump up and sing, dance and play along with some of Disney Junior’s most-loved shows and characters, including Elena of Avalor, Miles from Tomorrowland, Doc McStuffins, The Lion Guard, Sofia the First and more! Got your tickets yet?!

In addition, fans young and old are invited to be among the first to see the upcoming series Mickey and the Roadster Racers on the big screen before its television debut in January 2017. Attendees will also receive a $5 offer to the Disney Stores and a free e-book download, as well as other giveaways. 

AMC Yorktown 17
AMC Ford City 14
AMC Showplace Naperville 16
AMC Showplace Schererville 16 & IMAX
Cinemark Louis Joliet Mall
Cinemark at Seven Bridges and IMAX
Century 12 Evanston
Muvico Rosemont 18
Goodrich Randall 15 IMAX
Goodrich Portage 16 IMAX
Marcus Elgin Cinema
Marcus Gurnee Cinema
Marcus Orland Park Cinema
Orland Park
Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX
Regal City North Stadium 14 & RPX
Regal Webster Place 11
Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 21 & IMAX
Regal Crystal Lake Showplace Stadium 16
Crystal Lake

“Disney Junior at the Movies – Mickey’s BIG Celebration” is almost here!  Come celebrate Mickey’s Birthday and be the FIRST to see Mickey’s all new series Mickey and the Roadster Racers on the BIG screen.  You can sing and dance along with all your Disney Junior favorites, so grab the wheel and join the fun!

Be sure to check out Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy and your favorite Disney Junior pals as Fathom Events and Disney Junior present a special sneak peek of Mickey and the Roadster Racers in select movie theatres nationwide at this hot diggity racer-rific one-day event on Saturday, November 12th!

In this all-new series, Mickey and the gang now run a super-cool garage where they take care of their brand-new, transforming roadsters, as they get ready for races around Hot Dog Hills and around the world! 

When they’re not on the road with Mickey competing for trophies, Minnie and Daisy run their own business, “The Happy Helpers”, solving problems for anyone needing a helping hand. Minnie’s skills know no limits and her style will still be as fashionable as ever.

GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: Grow Your Brains With Gigamic Games Like Quoridor and Panic Lab

Happy 20th Anniversary Quoridor

We are huge fans of brain games here at ChiIL Mama. My kids have grown up playing puzzle games, memory games, board games, card games and brain games from toddlerhood on. So, when Gigamic games reached out to us to partner up on a review and giveaway, we jumped at the chance. 

Disclosure: We have been given games for review purposes and for our giveaway. This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are our own.

I fully believe playing smart games has increased my kids' brain power. Now that my kids are 13 & 15, they're both in advanced honors tracks in two of the best public schools in the city of Chicago, if not the country. My 15 year old son, Dugan, is the VP of a card game club at Lane Tech, and taking 3 college level AP classes and the rest senior level course work. He's also a great game tester for me, along with his sister, Sage, who is an 8th grader in the IB honors program at Taft high school's academic center.

Now that my kids are teens, family play is even more fun, and we're all pretty evenly matched. Want to add Quoridor to your family's game collection?

ENTER HERE for your chance to win a 
gorgeous wooden Quoridor set ($34.95 value) from Gigamic & ChiIL Mama just in time for the holidays!

Open to US entries nationwide. Enter through midnight 11/24/16.

We were given Quoridor and Panic Lab to review. Both were huge hits with the family. Quoridor is a gorgeous wooden set, classy and classic enough to leave out as decor, on our gaming trunk. Games are meant to be seen and played. We've found that when they're unboxed they get played even more often. Both games are easy to learn quickly. Quoridor remains challenging as it's strategies are easy to learn, tough to master. 

Panic Lab is a fast paced, playful game, perfect for multi age groups and keeping the kids off the video games for some family together time. The tin makes travel with Panic Lab a snap. This was my daughter's favorite, hands down. And I will say the kids beat the adults on this one on just about every round. The game play resulted in a lot of laughs. We highly recommend both games!

Many of Gigamic's puzzle and strategy games have educational benefits while the wooden games also make beautiful (yet functional) decorations as coffee table games, on home bars, in man caves and on desks. Many of the tin games are great for travel and will make fantastic stocking stuffers. They are fun, casual games with short teaching time and are fast to play. Gigamic makes quality games that stand the test of time. Quarto is celebrating 25 years and Quoridor is celebrating 20! Whether you want a timeless classic keepsake or a colorful newcomer, Gigamic has you covered.

Get Social:
Follow Gigamic on Facebook and Twitter here & Check out the Gigamic site to order your brain games!

Get Gigamic Games:

Marbles (Quarto, Quoridor,Katamino), Amazon (Quoridor and more), Barnes & Noble, & local Chicago games stores like one of our favorites, Cat and Mouse.

Disclosure: Once again, we have been given games for review purposes and for our giveaway. This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are our own.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

TONIGHT: We'll Be ChiILin' At Fashion Outlets Of Chicago Santa HQ Sneak Peek

“Fashionably Late” Black Friday Shopping Event, Extended Hours and Convenient Amenities Help Make Fashion Outlets of Chicago Holiday Shopper’s Paradise 

I'm not a huge fans of malls, but I actually enjoy shopping at Macerich's Fashion Outlets of Chicago. They have an easy parking garage, great layout, and a relaxed atmosphere. And their selection of stores is excellent! Check them out this holiday, to simplify your shopping needs and visit one of the most high tech Santa HQs in town. 

Macerich's Fashion Outlets of Chicago, located at 5220 Fashion Outlets Way in Rosemont, has partnered with one of America’s leading home and lifestyle brands, HGTV, to introduce Santa HQ: a thoroughly modern, extraordinarily experiential visit with Santa for shoppers to enjoy this holiday season. Fashion Outlets of Chicago will also make the holiday season bright with its “Fashionably Late” Black Friday shopping event, high-end amenities and extended holiday hours. 

Set to open Friday, November 11, the new Santa HQ will invite families to experience the wonder of Santa's workshop in the digital and social media age. This engaging new version of a visit with Santa utilizes digital tools to offer an augmented reality environment and a thoroughly new and enhanced social media experience for families. Santa HQ will be open seven days a week through December 24. 

Operating hours are: 
  •  Mondays through Thursdays: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  •  Fridays and Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  •  Sundays: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    Special holiday hours include:
  •  Friday, November 25: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  •  Saturday, November 26: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  •  Sunday, November 27: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  •  Sunday, December 18: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  •  Saturday, December 24: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 

  • "Our goal at Fashion Outlets of Chicago is to enhance the customer experience in every way possible and deliver exciting opportunities guests can’t find anywhere else,” said Katie Walsh, Senior Marketing Manager at Fashion Outlets of Chicago. “Visits and photos with Santa at shopping centers are a well-loved holiday tradition, and this year we are elevating that experience with the digital and social media components of Santa HQ.”
    At Santa HQ, children will be "scanned" as they arrive and determined to be "naughty or nice," enter an observatory where they will use special tablets to choose magical environments - the night sky or the inner workings of a clock on the wall, for instance - and be able to take an "ELFIE" (an image of the child as a dancing elf), among other attractions.
    Furry family members can join in the fun and be a part of family photos with Santa during Fashion Outlets of Chicago’s pet nights. Every Monday, from November 28 through December 19, families can bring their cat or dog to Santa HQ for photos with Santa from 6 to 8 p.m. Fashion Outlets of Chicago encourages shoppers participating in pet nights to park on P2 (second level) of the parking garage and enter the center by Helzberg Diamonds and Converse to easily access Santa HQ. 
Visitors are invited to start making reservations as early as mid-September by visiting www.santa- Guests can also enter to win $10,000 in cash by registering at the Santa HQ set or by visiting

Shoppers can celebrate Black Friday in style at Fashion Outlets of Chicago’s “Fashionably Late” event beginning at 10 p.m. Thursday, November 24 and running through 10 p.m. Friday, November 25. Guests can take advantage of incredible Black Friday savings at more than 130 designer outlets while Chicago’s hottest DJs including DJ Lani Love will spin chart-topping hits throughout the 24- hour party. 
Fashion Outlets of Chicago will extend its hours during the holiday season in order for shoppers to take advantage of the center’s amazing sales and holiday amenities. Visit for specific holiday hours. 

 Fashion Outlets of Chicago will help make the holiday shopping season stress-free with its wide range of amenities available at Concierge Services. Through a program powered by Deliv, shoppers can bring their holiday purchases to Concierge Services and enjoy same -day delivery to their home, office or hotel within 10 miles of Fashion Outlets of Chicago for $5. In order to accommodate same-day delivery, items must be dropped off at Concierge Services before 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and before 3 p.m. Sundays. Gift wrapping is also available at Concierge Services and starts at $2 per item. 

For Chicago visitors traveling through O’Hare airport, Fashion Outlets of Chicago is a great destination to visit during a layover. Concierge services is available to hold luggage and print boarding passes at the shopping center. International travelers can take advantage of currency 
exchange and translation services. 

Anchored by Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store, Forever 21, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, the two-level indoor shopping center is home to a variety of brands for every shopper including Nike, The Disney Store, J.Crew and Michael Kors. The center also offers outlet stores unique to the Chicago area, including AllSaints, Prada, Burberry, Chico’s, DVF, Gucci, Joe’s Jeans, Kipling, Moncler, lululemon athletica, The Art of Shaving, Tory Burch and vineyard vines. 
About Fashion Outlets of Chicago 
Macerich’s Fashion Outlets of Chicago is an award-winning 530,000 square-foot, two-level indoor shopping center that is home to more than 130 designer outlets, an impressive contemporary art collection and high-end amenities. The one-of-a-kind upscale outlet property that redefines and elevates the outlet shopping experience, is located at 5220 Fashion Outlets Way in Rosemont – minutes from O’Hare International Airport and Chicagoland’s major highways. 
About Macerich 
Macerich, an S&P 500 company, is a fully integrated self-managed and self-administered real estate investment trust, which focuses on the acquisition, leasing, management, development and redevelopment of regional malls throughout the United States. 
Macerich currently owns 55 million square feet of real estate consisting primarily of interests in 51 regional shopping centers. Macerich specializes in successful retail properties in many of the country's most attractive, densely populated markets with significant presence in the Pacific Rim, Arizona, Chicago, and the New York to Washington, DC corridor. 

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