Posts by April M. Williams

Posts by April M. Williams, speaker, author and coach

Little Black Dress Event Benefits CASA of McHenry County

The first annual Little Black Dress event to benefit CASA of McHenry County was a huge success. Over 70 women attended each with their own take on the LBD. No two outfits were alike. The event was held at Marzano’s in McHenry.

Wine, hors d’oeuvres and chocolates paired with dance music. Volunteers sold raffle tickets for flowers and gift baskets. Generous sponsors included Studio 2013, Intrigue Fitness, Locker’s Flowers, Anderson’s Candy Shop, Blooms and Rooms, C You at the Movies and Black Orchid Boutique.

Chaired by Mary Margaret Maule, the fabulous committee included Jill Kaman, Jennifer Dallas, Jeanne Browning, Kathy Sierminski and Cindy Kottke.

Attendees at Little Black Dress For CASA McHenry 2013

Attendees at Little Black Dress For CASA McHenry 2013

CASA’s of McHenry County‘s mission is “Giving a Voice to Abused and Neglected Children in McHenry County.”

To learn more about the 2013 Little Black Dress event and see pictures from the 2013 event, visit McHenry County CASA Little Black Dress on Facebook.

Academy Award Winner Predictions from Dann Gire and Raymond Benson

Tonight Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire and author Raymond Benson shared their Academy Award winner predictions at the McHenry Library.

While we enjoy movies, the backlist in our Netflix queue currently holds our attention. This year we saw “The Hobbit” and “Skyfall” in the theaters, mostly due to invitations from our adult kids. Both Dann and Raymond said Adele’s song “Skyfall” will mostly likely win the Oscar for the Best Original Sound category.

Dann and Raymond offered their personal predictions for all the Oscar categories and their reasoning for each pick. I was surprised how often they agreed on their choices. We viewed several film clips which illustrated their points.

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Ray’s favorite movie this year is “Moonrise Kingdom” and Dann’s favorite is “Zero Dark Thirty.”

During their presentation, I noted their best guesses for winners. I’ll be comparing their predictions with the actual winners this weekend.

Best Picture: They both agreed on “Argo.”

Dann and Raymond are regulars at the Schaumburg and Arlington Heights Libraries. Come out to see one of their film programs and enjoy the banter between these two experts.

Hula Hoop to Pole Dancing Classes at Intrigue Fitness in LITH

Classes at Intrigue Fitness in Lake in the Hills include hula hoop, pole dancing, Zumba, yoga and other fitness sessions. Owner Linda Costoff opened this women only boutique studio in August 2012. I sampled a wide variety of the classes available then joined as a member.

Picking up the hula hoop at my first class I realized this was not the same  type of toy hoop we used in grade school. The colorful hula hoops used in these workshops are larger and heavier in weight. Linda told us these adult sized hoops are for adult size bodies. The larger and heavier hoops are easier to keep in motion.

During our one hour hula hoop class we learned to swing the hoop around our hips both clockwise and counterclockwise. We did this with both a side to side then a forward and back technique. Next we learned how to walk forward while keeping the hoop in motion. We practiced three ways to do turns while the hoop continued to spin around our waist. We even attempted a trick transferring a spinning hope from one hand to the other.

Owner Linda Costoff shows one of the Hula Hoops at Intrigue Fitness

Owner Linda Costoff shows one of the Hula Hoops at Intrigue Fitness

Hula hooping is a great cardio workout and works the mid section of the body. Click on the video below to see Linda Costoff demonstrating basic and advanced hula hoop tricks.

Linda also taught our 90 minute pole dancing workshop which began with stretching exercises focusing on the core. Next we moved on to strengthening exercises including push ups and pull-ups targeting the upper body. During the session, my fellow classmates and I learned a simple mat and pole routine.

Classes sizes are small with eight poles in the studio. The room is softly lit and there are no mirrors. It is a comfortable environment where women of all levels can participate and have fun.

Students can try pole dancing workshops to learn more. These workshops are popular for private events and bachelorette parties. Classes generally run eight weeks and students advance at their own speed.

Linda began pole dancing about two years ago and at the end of class she showed us a routine she is working on. This included inversions and advanced tricks. She used both static and spinning poles for these moves.

A variety of fitness sessions are available at Intrigue Fitness. Mind body sessions include tai chi and three types of yoga classes are held during the week. Try Latin dancing infused Zumba and Hip Hop dance classes. Small group and individual personal training sessions are available.

At Intrigue Fitness, instructors remember students names and ask about injuries or restrictions. They show modifications and adapt to enable all fitness levels to participate. They even give you tips on how to wash your workout clothes.I am including the site for you https://www.odorklenz.com/product/sport-detergent-for-workout-clothes/.

Intrigue Fitness is for those who enjoy small group environments and personal service. It is not for those who are looking for expanded services big box gyms offer like child care, swimming pools, lockers and showers. There are no treadmills, elliptically or rowing machines at the studio.

Payment is per class, punch card or monthly dues. The studio is located 9115 Trinity Drive in Lake in the Hills, Illinois 60156. Phone (224) 678-9943 or email intriguefitness@yahoo.com
on the web http://www.intrigue-fitness.com

Fitness Center · Yoga & Pilates · Personal Trainer
9115 Trinity Drive, Lake in the Hills, IL.
Follow Intrigue Fitness on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/IntrigueFitness

ANNOUNCING THE PUBLICATION OF “BACKPACKERS & FLASHPACKERS IN WESTERN EUROPE: 500 HOSTELS IN 100 CITIES IN 25 COUNTRIES

Hypertravel Books is happy to announce the publication of “Backpackers and Flashpackers in Western Europe: 500 Hostels in 100 Cities in 25 Countries,” written by Hardie Karges, author of “Hypertravel: 100 Countries in 2 Years,” and the first in a series of guides to the world’s best hostels. For those of you who don’t already know it, hostels are the biggest thing that has occurred in decades for budget travel. Just when it seemed like international travel was an activity increasingly reserved for the wealthy among us, the explosion of hostels in the last few years has once again leveled the playing field and made travel possible for almost anybody and everybody with the desire and the disposition. Accommodations ARE the most expensive part of travel, after all.

Hostels have long been around, of course, at least in Europe, but those were youth hostels. These are hostels for backpackers, and “flashpackers,” too, their more upscale urban cousins. There’s a world of difference. Now Internet is a standard feature, computers available for free or for rent, and many a flashpacker with smartphone or laptop. It’s not just Europe now, either, or just youth. It includes the whole world, and it’s a way of life. If it’s a cool place to visit, then there will probably be a hostel there by now, staffed by local people, all with at least a working knowledge of the English language. You can easily organize a trip and stay in budget hostels the whole way the whole time now. This book will help. It will also tell you the brief history and major attractions of each place, too, in addition to some basic “how-to” for newbies.

And that’s just Western Europe. Eastern Europe is the most exciting destination to open up for independent travel in decades. The food is tasty, the people are friendly, and the variety is breathtaking. At first glance Poland and the Czech Republic may seem like extensions of their Western neighbors, but they are extensions that were frozen in time for fifty years before the Iron Curtain finally fell some twenty years ago. Communism did nothing if not stop the clock; and what you find now are perfect specimens of old Europe, the one with the stunning landscapes and the picturesque city centers. Places like Russia and Romania are something else entirely, of course, and exotic Turkey is one of the most popular destinations in the world. Best of all, prices are cheaper than in the West, AND… very few require expensive time-consuming visas now. And yes; there are hostels, lots of them, the best among them now documented and catalogued for your convenience. “BACKPACKERS & FLASHPACKERS, 500 HOSTELS IN 100 CITIES IN 25 COUNTRIES OF EASTERN EUROPE” is due to be published in January 2013.

And that’s not all. Already in the works are hostel guides to Asia and Oceania, i.e. Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of the South Pacific, both with the same “500 Hostels” concept, with some important differences peculiar to the regions. And if there were surprises and revelations in the two European editions, then there are even more in the two Far East editions. The hostel concept was originally a European one, after all, and with the exception of Australia and New Zealand, there is none of that really to be had in the Asia/Pacific region. But there are hostels, I can assure you, and ‘real’ ones, too. And yes, the ‘flashpacker’ upgrade is also in effect over there, no matter how difficult the task for an easterner to fathom the minds of the young hip American or European. It’s mind-boggling. Those two books are due to be published in Spring 2013.

Did you ever wish there were a travel guide that included only the hip cool artsy fun places in a given region or country and didn’t bother so much with those cold gray cities best known for their output of coal, steel and industrial pollution? These books facilitate that. One of the happy offshoots of this series, indeed, is that now there is a quantitative standard to decide how “cool” a place is—and therefore maybe worth visiting, at least maybe more than some others, and maybe even hanging around for a while. Just count the number of hostels. As it has been up until now, you could read a 500-page guidebook, and still not necessarily have a good feel as to which places were “hip,” genial, sympa, anything but a boring, hurly-burly generic city, cold but not cool. Now you do, because hostels are nothing if not cool. C U there.

Follow Hardie Karges Backpackers and Flashpackers blog.

 

Satori Fire Glass Creates Handcrafted Fused Dichroic Glass

Prior to discovering her true artistic talents, Stephanie Tantillo of Satori Fire Glass spent 18 years working in the pharmaceutical industry as a production supervisor, manager and technical writer. During this time she also enjoyed working on several major motion pictures and can be seen in films such as The Fugitive, Sleepless in Seattle and the remake of a Miracle on 34th Street.

Stephanie discovered her creative and artistic abilities through the inspiration of an incredible glass artist. She found several outstanding teachers to guide her into the processes of glass fusing. It was by applying what she had been taught and working with the media on her own that she has become proficient at the art of designing and creating glass jewelry. She has since become a skilled and passionate jewelry designer and glass artist. Her joy is in bringing the glass to life with the dramatic color combinations and elegant designs she creates. Much of her work is inspired by the colors of the ocean and her love of Hawaii.

Stephanie Tantillo of Satori Fire Glass

For the past 10 years Stephanie has worked as a full time artist. Initially, she worked from her studio in the Phoenix Arizona area where she created and sold her fused dichroic glass and silver jewelry. In August 2008 she returned to the area where she was born in McHenry County near Chicago, Illinois. Stephanie continues to expand her art business through participating in numerous art fairs in the Midwest and most recently in Florida. Stephanie is known for creating the Satori Heart Collection and donates $1 from the sale of each heart to the Children’s Heart Foundation.

Archeological evidence indicates that glass fusing can be traced back to the Egyptians (2000BCE).  However some historians now say that the Romans who were prolific glass workers first developed the earliest fusing techniques. Modern technology has added spectacular color to this ancient art with the development of dichroic glass. Dichroic glass is created when thin layers of non-conducting metallic oxides are applied to conventional glass and processed in a high temperature vacuum furnace. Most pieces are a combination of dichroic, transparent and opaque glass.

Although much more sophisticated, the process of glass fusing remains basically the same as it did in ancient Egypt and Rome. The glass is cut and layered. The layers are then fused together in a kiln at temperatures that can exceed 1500°F. Once the glass has cooled it is removed from the kiln and shaped into the desired design using diamond grinders and saws. The piece is then returned to the kiln to be fire polished at a slightly lower temperature than the original fusing. To achieve the optimum look many pieces go through this process three to four times. Fire polishing is done to give the glass pieces an elegantly smooth and finished look.

Stephanie Tantillo of Satori Fire Glass donates $1 from the sale

Due to the nature of the glass, the fusing and finishing processes, each piece becomes a unique jewel reflecting its luminescent colors in the light. Finished pieces are then embellished with sterling or fine silver, semi precious stones or crystals  becoming pendants, bracelets, earrings, hair adornments, rings and more. Satori Fire Glass jewelry is designed to be worn with the most casual to formal attire.

Follow Satori Fire Glass on Facebook.

RUN4VETS 2012 McHenry Supports Local Veteran Programs

Join McHenry TLS Veterans and support our local veterans this Veteran’s Day at the first annual RUN4VETS event. Mark your calendar for Nov. 11, 2012 and meet at Lippold Park in Crystal Lake.

The goal of this event is to honor our military and veterans and to let the community know that TLS Veterans is available to them. No veteran should ever be homeless or be hungry.

Mrs. Marge Gunnar & Dr. Rolf Gunnar

Mrs. Marge Gunnar & Dr. Rolf Gunnar at Bravehearts Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center. Photo credit TLS McHenry.

The 5K run starts at 9:00 and the 5K walk begins immediately afterward. RUN4Vets needs volunteers to make sure the day is successful. There are many ways you can help out including:

  • Help secure Sponsors
  • Distribute fliers
  • Set up / clean up
  • Donate new toys
  • Donate item/prize/money
  • Help during the run
  • Whatever / wherever the need is

If you can help out, please contact RUN4VETS through the Volunteer sign up form.

TLS Veterans operates New Horizons, a transitional-living center for homeless veterans in Hebron. TLS also operates a drop-in center in McHenry, IL, that serves as a hub for a Lake-McHenry County initiative focusing on the well-being of veterans and military families. Peer support by veterans is the key for this initiative’s major goals to cut veteran homelessness, suicide prevention and reduction of psychiatric hospitalizations by transforming the way services are delivered. 

The Voices of Veterans Writer’s Group, open to all military veterans meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 6-8PM. There is no cost to participate in this program.

Please bring a new unwrapped toy to RUN4VETS Toys For Toys collection for local McHenry County residents, veterans and their families.

Toys for Tot waiting for Santa

Tot waiting for Santa to arrive at the Toys for Tots event. Photo credit TLS McHenry.

Jim Green The Wandering Endorphin Plays Algonquin Library

Jim Green commonly known as The Wandering Endorphin delighted crowds recently at the Algonquin Library. His distinct style of playing includes strumming, plucking, picking and percussion which he calls percussive guitar. Jim hammers the guitar strings like piano wires and Jim uses the entire guitar neck and all sides of the body. Visit Jim’s website  to view free lessons and learn how to play his style.

I when I asked Jim what he loved about playing music, he said Michael Hedges summed it up best with “Because I can dream out loud.”

Growing up in Sauk Village, Jim quit his day job and moved to Chicago to launch his music career. Beginning with open mike nights he later became a Chicago street musician. He can also be found writing digital piano reviews in his free time. His travels led Jim to Israel for 10 months where he lived, played and wrote music in Tele Aviv. Jim is heading back to Israel for four more months.

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays guitar and harmonica

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays guitar and harmonica

At Jim’s performances delighted the audience, both children and adults, with his engaging style. This show included singing, guitar, harmonica and a Native American Love flute. Jim still plays his first guitar, an Aspen, at his gigs and a Martin guitar for studio recording.

The playlist included mostly original tunes inspired by the outdoors, wind, sunset, beaches and fireflies. Several songs included train sounds. Jim played a beautiful cover of Don McLean’sVincent” inspired by Vincent Van Gogh‘s famous painting “Starry, Starry Night“. The show ended with the lively Endorphin Jig.

Follow Jim Green’s Wandering Endorphin Facebook page for news about upcoming shows and music.

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays percussive guitar

Jim Green the Wandering Endorphin plays percussive guitar

Morkes Chocolate in Algonquin for Chocolate Parties

A visit to Morkes Chocolate Algonquin is a treat! Chocolate in every shape and size envelopes the senses from your first step in the door. Morkes Algonquin owner Claudia Kendzior gave us the grand tour of the candies and party room. All my favorites were there including fudge, peanut brittle, English toffee and orange peel. The giant sweet or tart apples dipped in caramel or chocolate topped with peanuts, pecans, Oreos, candy sprinkles or more chocolate.

Aprl M. Williams and Claudia Kendzior owner Morkes Chocolates Algonquin

Aprl M. Williams and Claudia Kendzior owner Morkes Chocolates Algonquin

We tried the Dark Chocolate Breakfast Toffee with a bit of mocha oil for a delicious roasted nutty flavor. Crunchy, nutty and sweet!

Pick your favorite truffles, nuts, mints, creams, fruits and chocolates or an assorted mix as a gift. All purchases leave the store decorated with a colorful complimentary ribbon. Gift wrapping is available for small fee.

Morkes Algonquin features seasonal items during the year. Cute chocolate ghosts will bring a smile to your little goblin. Other sweets you will find during Halloween include chocolate Frankensteins, eyeballs, skulls and brains as well as Pumpkin Fudge.

Additional specialty items include delicious chocolate award statues, party favors and birth announcements. Order a chocolate chess set for a special someone or a pair of high-heeled chocolate shoes.

Ready to make your own chocolate creations? Morkes party room is the place. Register for one of the candy making classes designed for children or adults. Create a Chocolate Pizza loaded with your favorite candy toppings. No baking necessary! At Morkes Candy Camp, kids make their own Cake Pops and Push Up Pops. During Morkes Fondue & Truffle class sample a variety of treats dipped in chocolate goodness then dip and decorate your own truffles.

Morkes treats the birthday child like royalty. After the chocolate making and eating, it is time to open presents. The guest of honor is the center of attraction sitting atop the regal throne while opening their gifts.

Holiday and special occasion candy

Holiday and special occasion candy

Scouts enjoy visiting the store and can even earn a badge for candy making.

The first Morkes began making premium chocolate in 1920 in Chicago before moving to their current home in Palatine. The Algonquin Morkes opened in 2007 and is independently owned though both stores co-market and both sell items like donuts made in the Palatine store.

Visit Morkes Facebook page or stop by their store at 2755 West Algonquin Road in Algonquin just three blocks west of Randall Road.

The Powder Room Affordable Luxury in Downtown Algonquin

The Powder Room Algonquin is the place for affordable luxury, designed so women can come back more than once. Owners Krysten Boylan and Julie Bailey opened the business as a place where women will enjoy being pampered. Located in a historic pink lady in the heart of downtown Algonquin the bright rooms are painted soft pink with white trim playing off the warmth of the wood floors.

The Powder Room Algonquin Fireplace

The Powder Room Algonquin Fireplace

Krysten and Julie told me it took many hours to make over this lovely home. Julie has a long history with the house. She lived in the upstairs apartment for several years.

I treated myself to a facial with Krysten which lasted about an hour. As I relaxed, listening to soft music, I enjoyed two cleanings, exfoliation, steam, massage, mask, toner, serum, moisturizer. I can see why many customers fall asleep during the session. I felt terrific and rejuvenated! The facial is customized to each skin type and only organic and natural products are used. Other services include chemical peels, waxing, makeup services. Call to make an appointment for a complimentary makeover.

Krysten's Relaxing Facial Room at the Powder Room

Krysten’s Relaxing Facial Room at the Powder Room

I also attended a small group event where a few of us really got know one another. The Powder Room hosts many networking and workshops to empower women. Check their calendar for details.

Parking in the lot or on the street. Hours are by appointment. Call (224) 241-8242, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

Chunn’s Burying Ground Oak Glenn Cemetery Fox River Grove

Chunn’s Burying Ground also known as Oak Glenn Cemetery in Fox River Grove, Illinois is one of the oldest cemeteries in McHenry County according to McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission. The cemetery named after local business man T.R. Chunn, a pioneer in the area who owned the property and buried there. Several websites say the site is an old Indian burial ground.

Chunn's Burying Ground Oak Glenn Cemetery Fox River Grove Nestled in a wooded area at the top of a hill,  the historic cemetery on Algonquin-River Road next to Algonquin Road School. Over the years the cemetery became overgrown with weeds and brush. Arnett Lines, a local historian, inventoried and transcribed the gravestones in 1944. The remaining headstones were relocated to a raised bed under a stand of trees for protection. In 2008, the cemetery was rededicated and designated a historic site. A bronze plaque on boulder at the cemetery entrance notes the historic status.

Gravestones at Chunn's Burying Ground Oak Glenn Cemetery Fox River Grove

Today the site is well maintained quiet park lined with a wooden rail fence. A sign outside the cemetery stays “Chunn’s Burying Ground Oak Glenn Cemetery.” As we walked through the park, we came upon a well-marked geocache. Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game where players try to find hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. We logged our find at the geocache and online.

HIstoric Chunn's Burying Ground Oak Glenn Cemetery Fox River Grove

The next time you are on Algonquin Road, take a few moments to visit Chunn’s Burying Ground Oak Glenn Cemetery in Fox River Grove. The peaceful setting is perfect for a few minutes of quiet reflection. You can log an easy geocache while you are there.

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