Scent Décor: It’s a Thing

Scent plays a huge role in style. A woman’s fragrance is an extension of her look. Upscale hotels (like the Plaza Athenee in Paris) often boast a signature parfum that symbolizes the property’s luxury status. Even retailers (think Abercrombie and Fitch) use aroma to define their brand. This concept carries over to décor. A home is yet another style platform to personalize with scent.

My Chicago apartment embodies my eclectic style; a mix of contemporary and mid-century modern furniture punctuated with offbeat knickknacks culled from travels around the globe. Art is everywhere: photography, sculpture, graffiti paintings and zany African head dresses as wall hangings. And, drapery is treated as jewelry, each room’s piece de resistance. There is a lot going on but, somehow it all flows perfectly. Smell plays a role in my home. There is always a hint of French lavender (I tuck sachets everywhere) and fresh flowers to counteract the frigidity of winter. To channel my Miami upbringing, I saute orange and lemon peels for a whiff of tropical citrus.

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When Unstopables reached out and asked me to test drive their new scent décor, I signed on. My favorite? The in-wash scent booster. With two active daughters, the laundry baskets are always overflowing. This product (just add it to the wash at the beginning of the cycle) adds a subtle, pleasant fragrance to clothing. Though it won’t reduce the amount of laundry, it makes the experience more pleasurable!

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My Kind of Town, Chicago

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The food. The sports. The art. The theater. There is a lot to love about the city of Chicago. And I have the good fortune to report on all things fabulous in the third coast for Travel + Leisure Magazine.

With the holidays upon us, everyone is talking about what to do over the vacation. So, herewith, I am spilling the cultural beans on some excellent activities guaranteed to keep siblings, best friends, parents and kids engaged and happy. Below is my segment on ABC’s Windy City Live. And beneath that is a link to my local expert’s guide to Chicago for Travel and Leisure.

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WCL

 

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Check out my local expert’s guide to Chicago for Travel + Leisure here!

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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ATK spotlights what to do in Chicago with kids for Four Seasons Magazine

Parks, culture, history, sports and a culinary scene that runs the gamut from old-fashioned hot dog stands to haute Michelin-starred cuisine—Chicago has no shortage of activities. If you’re looking for the kid-friendly variety, you’ll find your fill at five of our favourite Windy City attractions. READ FULL STORY HERE

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MARNI MAYHEM: THE INDIGNITY OF SHOPPING FAST FASHION COLLABORATIONS

Stop the presses. I am officially a door buster.

I will go to great lengths for style. And, am often mortified (post acquisition) at what I will/would/will endure to hunt and gather the objects of my affection. Case in point? The activities surrounding the March 8th sale of uber expensive Marni for H&M.  Now, I have been bowing down to the temple of Marni since the early 90’s. Designer Consuelo Castiglione’s upbeat prints and signature slouchy fit are my version of wardrobe perfection. But, in order to score discount designer duds, one must wade through the degradation that punctuates a fast fashion shopping experience.

Having spent decades conquering sample sales in NYC and LA, I knew that my chances at nabbing my wish list would double if I had a partner. So, I enlisted my trusty assistant, Alaina, to coordinate an attack plan. In order to snap up fabulous fast fashion, one must physically go to the store. Very early. You see, these pieces are made in limited edition so they sell out within hours of their release into the wild. We planned for Alaina to get in line first so I could get my kids ready for school. But, after monitoring the sale on twitter, I could see the merch was already selling out across the country. So, I bribed my husband to stay home and get kids’ organized. Then-hair still in sleep ponytail-I hightailed by bus to Michigan Avenue by 8 am.

I was not alone. There were swarms of women drooling like Lionesses over fresh meat.

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Humorless guard keeping shoppers at bay, Amy and Alaina caffeinating
and sea of Marni/H&M hopefuls

Though we were told on the phone that we could shop at 8am, this was not to be. Instead, we were given color coded wristbands with the stipulated shopping time. So, though I arrived at 8:15 am, I could not shop-or even browse-the collection until 10:05. Now, I am the type who can finagle an upgrade from at the Four Seasons from standard room to suite. I routinely wangle my way to First Class on American Airlines. I have sat in the front row at YSL couture in Paris (when issued a seat in the nosebleed section) and can essentially talk my way into almost any situation. But, I could not get H&M personnel (I even called the PR department) to budge on my designated shopping time. In fact, the dour security at H&M felt positively Storm Trooper-esque. Shoppers were herded up by bull horn & lined up behind stanchions. Rules of the sale were shouted out: 15 minute time limit to shop. No re-entering the sale area from dressing rooms. Limit of two of a single item could be purchased. Wrist bands were checked with military precision 3 times prior to entering the sale area. And, the final indignity, a DJ was on site to blast obnoxious dance music in what felt like an attempt to maximize frayed nerves. When I approached the gloriously accessorized mannequins to examine the designs, guards formed a human blockade and commanded me to retreat. Frustrated, I moved to the front of the store and watched as the hoarding commenced. Forget mesh shopping bags. Sly fashion fiends were scooping up multiples of everything and loading their goods onto garment racks. I watched with mounting anxiety as the fabulous floral chokers and cuffs were depleted before my eyes. Then the mound of sleek platform shoes began to dwindle. Style stress is a breeding ground for new BFFs. Friendships were forged. Shopping strategies were hatched. Coffees were inhaled. I actually found an adorable model for an upcoming tv segment I was producing.

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We have to wait until 10.05?!

As 10:00 rolled around, we were all on high alert protecting our terrain in the 10:05 line.. A woman starting elbowing her way to the front. I alerted my newfound buddies and we headed her off and pelted her with evil eyes. At long last, our time was called. We were commanded to raise our left arms to display our wrist bands as we marched forth to the promised (fashion) land. I charged into the pit (to the lyrics of STAYING ALIVE, ironically) stockpiling my bags with anything that may work. The glam accessories were gone. But, we stuffed our bags with the color blocked dresses, sporty black nylon windbreakers and African themed tops. Next up? The moment of truth. The dressing room. After all of the waiting, everyone wanted their efforts to be endorsed with a prize purchase. Not everyone was rewarded. Size 10s were shimmying into size 6. Size 6 was swimming in size 12. And, some experienced the sad truth: what looks great on a mannequin does not work on every body type.

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Amy with her spoils and post-shopping elixirs to rebalance

Luckily, I scored. A lot of what I selected was parfait. But, I was pissed that some of my wish list had not been on the sales floor. So, I waited. Some of those polka dot ¾ coats and cardigans were most likely sequestered behind dressing room doors. My assistant kept her eyes trained on the “didn’t work” rack while I sat waiting to pounce on discarded merch left by my fellow shoppers. Some women were willing to barter. A jacquard top for a print Capri? A size 4 shirtdress for platform wedges? Finally, at 11 am, I had enough. With a pounding head and bulging shopping bags, I ambled out of the store. It was an experience, yes. But, not one that I am not likely to repeat again.

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BUMP IT UP, WINDY CITY STYLE

The Bump it Up Style Solutions Tour landed in Chicago last weekend to collaborate with Bump Club Chicago at the fabulous Peggy Notebaert Museum in Lincoln Park

Amy Tara Koch, Bump it Up Style Lounge Chicago

Mamas, Papas, Preggos & kids waiting for the festivities to begin

Amy Tara Koch Bump it Up Style Lounge Chicago

Women tuning in to my styling sessions with ISABELLA OLIVER clothing and talking pregnancy beauty with BELLI SKINCARE’s major duumo Annette Rubin.

Amy Tara Koch, Bump It Up Style Lounge

I show a woman how a form fitting ruched t-shirt + long necklace + leggings = bump it up perfection. All clothing is Isabella Oliver

Amy Tara Koch, Bump It Up style Lounge

Channeling a distinct Parisienne vibe with fab Isabella Oliver Breton boyfriend cardigan

Amy Tara Koch, Bump It Up style Lounge

A pop of color in the shape of a drapey scarf is a Bump it Up staple!

MATERNITY MOXIE: Isabella Oliver Clothing

(As worn by Natalie Portman, Selma Blair, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Gwen Stefani, Sophie Dahl, Naomi Watts, Minnie Driver and Jennifer Lopez)

Amy Tara Koch, Bump it Up Style Lounge Chicago

EYE CANDY: Awesome accessories +fabulous cupcakes supplied by MORE

Amy Tara Koch, Bump it Up Style Lounge Chicago

Founder of Belli Skincare- Annette Rubin – offers custom skin consultations and explains how critical it is to avoid “contra-indicated” ingredients during pregnancy.

Belli Skincare is the only skincare in the world that is teratology screened–which rules out any ingredients that are remotely linked to birth defects or any other developmental problems that might occur during pregnancy.

Amy Tara Koch, Bump It Up style Lounge

Mommy must have? I adore  PishPosh Mommy print carry-alls, wet bags and diaper clutches to keep mom organized and chic

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Some out of the box gift ideas for mom’s day

Speaking On behalf of groovy moms everywhere—we have worked hard all year and now it is time for family members to prove your devotion to us. No hint—no get…

VOSGES/BUMP IT UP : FOR THE PLUCKY PREGGO IN YOUR LIFE

Amy Tara Koch, Bump it Up and Vosges Chocolat

I teamed up with Chicago’s most famous chocolatier Katrina Markoff to create Mama’s Chocolat Gift Tower, a chocolate kit based on pregnancy cravings: spicy, fruity, savory.cheesy—it has it all. Style advice and a stash of the perfect chocolates

MORE CUPCAKES: A QUIRKY BREAKFAST IN BED

Cupcakes? For breakfast? Deconstruction is the name of foodie Patty Rothman’s game and she is a master at profiling intense flavors and Willy-Wonkifying them into savory cupcakes that skew more entrée than dessert. For Mom’s day she offers Breakfast in Bed squeezed into a delicious cupcake: Bacon/Maple, Cappuccino, Cinnamon roll, Passion. National delivery available!

MOM COUPONS

CHEAP & CHIC way to prove your love—free coupons good for room cleaning, breakfast in bed, dish washing, hugs and more!

GROOVY ACCESSORY: Sequin NYC Enamel Cuff Bracelet

Sequin NYC Enamel Cuffs

Peek at magazines and shops and it is easy to see that tis the season of the accessory. What’s hot? Attention grabbing cuffs that add a dash of flash to basic ensembles.

FULLY LOADED iPAD2 or iPOD TOUCH: W/ Stress Relieving Apps For Moms

Yoga App

Apps designed to make mom’s life less chaotic
myMeditation, $2.99
Yoga STRETCH, 99 cents
Grocery Gadget, $4.99
Red Laser, Free

WAIST WHITTLING SWIMSUIT: Miracle Body Swimsuit

MIRACLESUIT flamenco_red

There is an inimitable dread every mom feels about swimsuit shopping. Take the anxiety out of mom’s summer by proffering her a stylish suit designed with slimming and shaping technology to make her look 10 pounds thinner!

MAKE UP PALETTES: Bronzer? Check. Illuminating powder? Check. Gel liner? Berry stain lip glosses a plenty? Check.

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Get your glam on with this all-in-one kits used by red carpet fashionistas

STILA E! Red Carpet—Stunning Starlet, $25 /Glamour Goddess, $25

SMASHBOX Mega Palette, $59

THE PERFECT, GOES-WITH-EVERYTHING, BOYFRIEND CARDIGAN

Isabella Oliver Boyfriend Cardigan

The nautical sweater is the knit du jour for spring/summer. The length of this Isabella Oliver version makes it supremely versatile and  perfect for leggings, shorts, jeans or a dress
Isabella Oliver Breton Boyfriend Cardigan, $139

GET HER GLOW ON

The pure, anti-inflammatory ingredients in BELLI products exfoliate and keep skin uber hydrated.
Belli Head-to-toe Essential Kit, $100

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THE FRIDAY FIVE: NEWSFLASH: PRENATAL PILATES= LONG, LEAN “PUSHING” MACHINE!

Forget boring gym workouts. Pilates is my poison. The precise, controlled movements developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s strengthen, tone and align the body by using one’s own body weight. These non weight bearing exercises are ideal for pregnant women to keep the body strong and the metabolism firing. Another benefit of Pilates? It will make you the star of the delivery room. When the good doctor tells you to “push!” pilates’ practitioners will understand how to tense their ”kegels” and use their core muscles to bear down.  But, prenatal pilates must be done with a certified expert. I spoke with my trainer RANDI WHITMAN of FROG TEMPLE PILATES  (her instructors have undergone intensive prenatal and postpartum certification  and are specialists in the field)  to spotlight the many benefits of pre-natal pilates.

Amy 8 months pregnant at Frog Temple Pilates

“Pilates during pregnancy is about maintaining a woman’s previous level of fitness, staying strong and flexible for all 3 trimesters of pregnancy. We focus on what a woman can do as opposed to what she cannot do. At Frog Temple Pilates Center, our aim is not only to keep the pregnant body healthy and fit during pregnancy, but preparing her for the demands of labor and delivery,  as well as shortening recovery time postpartum.

1.     Prenatal pilates promotes good posture, strength and flexibility for the growing body.

2.      Prenatal pilates prepares the body for the demands of labor and delivery.


3.      Prenatal and postpartum pilates prevents common aches and pains such as lower back  and joint pain.

4.      Pilates exercises help to shorten recovery time postpartum, helping to get your body back quicker, both inside and out.


5.      Pilates postpartum teaches realigning the pelvis, strengthening the pelvic floor, and strengthening  all the weakened surrounding muscles we need to stabilize and rehabilitate the body.

For more information:
Frog Temple Pilates
773.489.0890

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THE FRIDAY FIVE: HOW A LITTLE PRICK (ACUPUNCTURE, SILLY!) CAN HELP YOUR PREGNANCY

 

Helps nausea? Check.
Helps back pain? Helps stress? Check.
Helps get you knocked up in the first place? Check. Check. Check.

A huge fan of acupuncture, I have been getting treatment in various forms for over a decade. A friend treated me to my first session to treat stress and back pain. The relaxation was so intense, so much more beneficial than 3 glasses of Pinot Noir, that it heralded in a serious obsession with getting pricked. When I had trouble getting pregnant with my second child, I declined the offers to high wattage fertility doctors and, instead, turned to the integrative health specialists in Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital.  Three months later, Success! I continued treatment throughout the pregnancy and alleviated many of the symptoms I had suffered from the first time around.

To get the lowdown on how acupuncture can help pregnant women, I turned to my favorite practitioner Jennifer Paschen of THE NEST in Chicago to explain the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy. Paschen, who treats women during pregnancy and attends (and administers acupuncture) births, has this to say about the importance of acupuncture in pregnancy: 

 “We treat women where they are in their quest for optimal health and balance. Acupuncture can make a huge difference in a woman’s pregnancy. We formulate individualized treatment plans for fertility, pregnancy wellness, general women’s health, and postpartum recovery. That is why acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is so effective– we are not just treating a symptom, we are treating the whole person. You really have to consider the internal landscape of each patient.” On the fertility front, Paschen explains that, through a detailed diagnosis method, Chinese Medicine practitioners are able to identify and understand where weakness and imbalance lie in the body. Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and dietary recommendations help strengthen energy and blood, which positively effects fertility.
 
Here is Paschen’s hit list on how acupuncture can help your pregnancy

1. Alleviates digestive complaints: morning sickness, heartburn, constipation and gas

2. Relieves pain: back pain, sciatica, headaches, carpal tunnel

3. Promotes circulation: decreases swollen ankles, feet and hands (aka edema)


4. Helps the mind: Elevates mood, calms anxiety and promotes restful sleep

5. Prepares the body for birth: promotes cervical ripening, helps with optimal positioning of baby, increases motility of pelvis and sacrum, and moderates high blood pressure

 Amy Tara Koch Friday Five Accupuncture

 

For more information:

 Jennifer Paschen, L.Ac., Owner of The Nest
773.267-0248

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Baby, it’s cold outside. But…super haute at the two BUMP IT EVENTs I had this month in Chicago

There is nothing more fun than helping women look and feel their best. I had book signing/styling sessions in Chicago this month with BUMP CLUB CHICAGO and NPN (Neighborhood Parents Network) and loved showing moms to be how to “bump up” their assets and channel their inner glamazons.

Attentive guests at Bump Club Chicago 12/6

Attentive attendess at Preggers for Bump Club Chicago 12/6

Amy styling at Bump Club Chicago

Amy styling at Bump Club Chicago Event 12/6

Some of the beautiful guests of the evening at NPN event 12/16

Models: Emily Hotz and Maria Vassilakis with Amy

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Amy giving her words of fashion wisdom at Bubbles 12/16

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Twitter Party: Last Minute Holiday Travel Tips with Amy Tara Koch

(As seen on: http://momsfashionfile.com/last-minute-holiday-travel-tips-with-amy-tara-koch.html)

Fashion File Twitter Party –RSVP here!

Date: Wednesday, December 15th
Time: 9:00pm EST/8:00 pm CST/6:00 pm PST

Your Stylish Hosts:
@savvysassymoms @momtrends @sassymomchicago

Special Guest – Amy Tara Koch, style expert, author of Bump It Up, journalist and all-around fashion aficionado will be our special host, sharing her last minute holiday  travel tips and joining in the conversation. Amy is a trend reporter for NBC (WMAQ-  TV) and contributes to American Baby, Pregnancy, Mom and People.com’s Mom and  Baby, The New York Times, The New York Observer, Travel & Leisure, American Way, Self, NPR and The Huffington Post. Follow@AmyTaraKoch

Tweet Grid Party Link: http://is.gd/impJN

Fashion does not have to be overwhelming, in fact it should be fun!

Grab a girlfriend, a glass of wine and join the fashionable conversation. Holiday travel sparks anxiety in the most unflappable parent. The trick to keeping it all together? Patience, preparation and packing like a pro. Amy is joining the conversation to share her picks and tips to make your trip a breeze!

These parties are for YOU and open to anyone wanting to learn or share some friendly style advice.   We want everyone to feel confident in their own individual Mom Style.

Moms Fashion File Agenda

“Last Minute Holiday Travel Tips

  • What to wear (for Moms)
  • Of-the moment toys to keep kids busy
  • Cootie protection-toilet in route and in the air
  • Bribery material: snacks and games
  • Organizational products for packing
  • Best Carry-ons
  • TECHY-needs for Moms and family
  • Organization a go go-in-bag pouches

Giveaways throughout the event from Kodak, Endless.com, Miracle Body Jeans, MomAgenda.com, Cream of Wheat, Tide, Duracell, Episcencial and Belli Skincare!
Over $400 will be given away during the party.

*Please RSVP by linking up here! You must RSVP to be eligible for the prizes
*Must be  a US Resident

*Entrants must answer the questions asked by MomsFashionFile hosts and post answers on Twitter
*Winners are picked at random by said hosts
*Winners are DM’d after the event with specifics on how to claim their prize

Example:
Link Title should be your Twitter handle

@fashionmama007
Samantha@fashionmama007.com
Link to your Twitter Account (http://twitter.com/fashionmom007)

1. @sassymomchicago 2. sarahmcobb
3. @bobabyali 4. @momtrends
5. @mommiemoore 6. @mellanhead
7. @chelyea 8. @childmode
9. @finntannermom 10. @ladyboarder9669@yahoo.com
11. @selfmademom 12. @lovelimes
13. @miraclebodyJean 14. @cnaes
15. @YUMMommies 16. @MrsScorziello
17. MillionMama 18. @kygurl62689
19. @iheartmarcusb 20. @SuperMomCentral
21. @friendshipbook 22. TravelMamas
23. @ottosadventures 24. @westoftheloop
25. @yswy 26. @echlfan
27. Tprutherford 28. @chloeescloset
29. @StressFreeBaby 30. @adendyut
31. @ConciergeforMom 32. @elyssasanders
33. @runnrchk 34. Chicago Nannies
35. Jbjovibabys 36. http://twitter.com/#!/disneygurl
37. @MiraclebodyJean 38. @bellecarrier
39. jeanined99 40. @justmared
41. @kelsvigil 42. @shawnmh
43. @katrinawilley 44. @SheilaW9
45. kimkbrooks 46. @BugOffChairCover
47. kearnslw

Accepted links may take a few minutes to appear.

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