February 24, 2009

Lent = Diet Time

I've always tried to use the Lenten season to jump on my diet plan. It seems like a good time to do it with all that Catholic guilt I harbor from my childhood. I tell myself that I'll give up this, that and the other thing and pump up my exercise routine so that when we open the pool shortly after Easter I won't cry when I put on my bathing suit for the first time. Does this work? I really don't know because I've never actually done it, but it is a good plan in theory!

Six weeks of extra exercise and less chocolate seems like it would be easy enough, but I stink at deprivation, especially when it comes to food. I can actually gain weight when I go on a diet. I think my body goes on famine alert and holds on to every fat cell and calorie it can get its greedy little mitts on. Oh, and my mind plays tricks on me. It's so not fair! It tells me that I give up so much already for my kids, husband, business, etcetera that I shouldn't have to give up the little bit of chocolate I indulge in (or the sushi, tea biscuits or bread). When it comes to exercise I do have some legitimate excuses but if I really wanted to I'm pretty sure I could walk briskly around the block several times a day. Then that little demon in my brain kicks in. "It's cold! It's raining! My feet hurt! I have too much work to do!" You get the idea.

So this year I'm really going to do it! No really... I am. I will start small. Minuscule. One day at a time. So no chocolate tomorrow (I'm already crying about this). Then one less teaspoon of sugar in my coffee. Once around the block when it's not raining. Maybe I'll get a Wii Fitness. Yeah, that's it! I'll join a gym. I could do that! See what I'm saying? I set myself up for failure if I reach too high and for me that means sticking to the once around the block for a few days and shelving the gym thing. After all I need to save my money for that new swimsuit. No really...

February 17, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Pucker Up!

For a perfect kiss soft lips are a must. Get yours there by gently (and I do mean gently) exfoliating your pucker. You can do this daily by using your soft bristle toothbrush after you brush your teeth. Lightly go over your lips, focusing on the outer, dryer edges to help remove flaky skin. Another way is to use a bit of your sugar scrub while in the shower and your lips are wet being careful to use a light touch. Don't forget to use an emollient lip product to help retain natural moisture and protect from the ravaging effects of wind, sun and pollution. XOXO!

February 11, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Have A Nice Hair Day

Here's a quicky: Is your hair giving you static? Those wispy tendrils on an otherwise smooth do can be calmed with just a dab of your regular hair conditioner. Rub a few drops of the conditioner between your palms and lightly pat down the fly away hairs. This will help control the static throughout the day without weighing down your coif.

February 9, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Flake Off!

I am starting to sound like a broken record, but exfoliation is the name of the game, people. As we grow older our epidermis does not shed its dull layer of dead cells as quickly as is used to. Even you youngsters need to help nature along to avoid flaky skin, especially if you indulge in tanning of any kind. There are any number of ways to accomplish this task.

You can take the easy route and use a pre-made product like Bidwell Botanicals Shea Butter Sugar Scrubs, or Cactus & Ivy's Fresh Breeze Loofah Scrub to effectively buff your skin, moisturize and rinse clean in one easy step.

If you prefer the homemade route you can use any kind of small grain sugar ie: brown, raw, white or turbinado. Many people prefer the texture of a salt glow. Be careful not to do so if you've just shaved the parts you're scrubbing. Think beach water and newly shaved legs, ouch! If you only have a large grained product at home you can refine it in your coffee grinder. For that matter you can use ground coffee.

To make your own scrub you will need:
  • Vegetable oil such as sweet almond oil, extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil. All of these are readily available on your grocery store shelf. Try Wholefoods for their huge selection of veggie oils, many of them organic.
  • Scrubby of your choice such as white cane sugar, brown sugar, turbinado sugar or fine grain sea salt.
  • A bowl or cup and mixing utensil.
  • Source of water - preferably a tub or shower.
  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer
Start by mixing your choice of exfoliant one to one with the oil and set to the side. A 1/4 cup of each should do for total body treatment. Moisten the area you are going to treat with warm water. Sit at the side of your tub or stand in your shower with the water off. Stir the mixture as it will separate and scoop out about a tablespoon. Start at the top of the area you are going to treat and work your way down. Gently scrub in a circular motion to help increase blood flow. Focus on dry areas such as elbows, knees and feet. I do not suggest using this treatment on your face as the skin is very fragile. When you're done shower off the residue using a gentle cleanser. This treatment can make your shower floor slippery so be careful. Step out, dry off and apply your favorite moisturizer.

Voilà! Baby soft skin. If you're planning a trip to the spray tan booth make sure you do this a day in advance so there is no oil residue on your skin (ask your technician just to make sure). If you use one of Bidwell Botanicals scrubs or similar products you can use them the same day as they leave no oil residue on the skin. This treatment can be done as needed, usually twice weekly will suffice depending on your skin type and will help keep the flakes and itchy skin away all year long.

February 7, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Step Right Up!

We've discussed this before but it bears repeating. One of the most neglected parts of our body are our feet. They get the least amount of love and literally carry us through our day. We stuff them inside wool socks and leather boots during winter and walk barefoot on hot sand during summer. They are forced to tolerate everything from stiletto heels on city sidewalks to hiking boots on the trail. Isn't it time you paid them back for all of their hard work?

Here's an easy three step pedicure you can do at home.
  1. Take a warm bath with a moisturizing additive like Bidwell Botanicals Shea Butter Shower Crème & Bubble Bath. What? Why take a bath? Why not? Your feet will be soaking in the tub the whole time so indulge me.
  2. When you're finished bathing dry off all but your feet and wrap up in a warm robe. While sitting at the edge of the tub use a combination of 1 part honey and 2 parts salt or sugar to scrub your still damp feet. Rinse well and drain the tub. Pat dry the moisture from your feet.
  3. Moisturize! I can't stress this enough especially in these cold, dry winter months. You can use anything from Vaseline to your favorite body lotion, the more emollient the better. The idea is to retain as much of the moisture in your skin as possible and doing so after this treatment is about ten times more effective than at any other time. Slip on a pair of cotton socks and go to bed.
There you go! You've killed two birds with one stone with the bath and your feet will thank you in the morning. That's a win/win situation if you ask me.

February 5, 2009

The Thoughtful Valentine's Gift Guide

What? Another holiday? Enough already! Valentine's Day is only a week away and waiting until the last minute could be fatal - well to your love life anyway. My husband was smart when we set the date to be married he pushed for a week after February 14th. Why? At the time he said it was so that it would be close to the sweet holiday but every year when he took me out we wouldn't have problems getting reservations. Uh-huh. Guess which two occasions we combine celebrating now. Smart guy.

So what do you get your Valentine after you just showered them with gifts for Christmas? Check out the guide below to help you give them something sweet without blowing your budget. It really is the thought that counts. That and getting them the gift on time!
  • Gift Certificates - while they may come across as a fast fix for a forgotten gift they are usually a pretty safe bet if you pick the proper place to purchase it. Try to steer away from a generic "Visa" gift card a that doesn't show a lot of thought. Select a gift card for her fave exotic flower shop or vegan spa. Find out what clothing boutique she'd love to shop in but feels she can't afford to indulge in. Nearly everything is available online and most places offer e-gifts so you're still safely within the time limits of getting it to your honey by the 14th. Do yourself a favor and don't send it to her via email. Trust me. Print it out and put it in a well thought out card or better yet gift wrap it.

  • Does your guy love to play golf? Would he like to play better? Go to a local sporting goods shop and they can tell you where you can purchase a certificate for pro golf lessons. This goes for tennis, skiing, fly fishing, sky diving and just about any other sport you can think of.

  • Is she/he on a weight loss plan? That kind of rules out chocolates but you can still give them the sweets without the calories. Many bath & body companies offer delicious alternatives to eating candy in their product lines. A tiramisu freak? La Dolce Diva. Addicted to chocolate? Chocolate Obsessions.

  • Please guys, don't buy a generic "heart pendant". It's okay, we all make mistakes, but this year surprise her with a creative piece of one-of-a-kind jewelry. You don't have to break your bank and your options are limitless. Anna Sofia Designs offers a bevy of beautiful handcrafted paper jewelry. Luka Designs offers gorgeous seasonally inspired pieces. Jala takes colorful fabrics and traditional jewelry design elements to a new level. My favorite is their silk collection. Delish!
So what have we learned? The idea is to put some thought into the gift you're giving. It doesn't have to be expensive or lavish, but you do need to zone in on the one you love and give them something tailored to their tastes. Gals, go to a (insert sport) game with him if you usually avoid it. Have a beer and try to look like you're having a good time! Guys rent her favorite mushy movie, make popcorn and settle in for some hugging and kissing in front of the TV. You might even shed a token tear during the sad part. Okay - that's overdoing it but you get my drift.

Love to all!

February 3, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Sweet Buns

You thought I forgot, didn't you? Sorry, it's been one of those days! Here is your late, but not forgotten beauty tip of the day:

Are you bothered by a lumpy butt? No, not your boyfriend! You know what I mean. Think of all the lovely words used to describe that evil condition that plagues us after puberty and more often than not, childbearing. Orange peel syndrome, cottage cheese butt, the mattress phenomenon, and my all time fave, hail damage. Cellulite (adiposis edematosa), as if we don't already know more than we want to, describes the appearance of fat deposits that appear just below the skin usually located in the abdomen, thighs and/or buttocks region. Both men and women are affected by this condition, though it occurs a lot more often in women. Of course, right?

How can we avoid this condition? We can't really as you can be genetically predisposed (thanks Mom). It is possible to limit the occurrence and appearance by eating healthy fibrous foods, staying active and limiting smoking or drinking alcohol as it reduces blood flow. I read that "Wearing thongs, boyshorts, or sleeping naked can reduce the impact underwear plays on cellulite's development." This tip must have been written by a man, but in essence it makes sense as it would help increase circulation in the gluteal area.

Try this quick treatment to help reduce the appearance of cellulite. After a warm shower use a mixture of olive oil, brown sugar and coffee grounds as a body scrub, focusing your attention on the areas where cellulite tends to occur (butt, thighs, belly, etc). Rub in gentle, but firm circular motions for about 10 minutes and then wash off with a cleanser and warm water. What does this do besides make you smell like breakfast? The caffeine in the coffee grounds will help to increase circulation and firm up the appearance of your skin while the sugar and oils exfoliate and smooth. The massaging is a critical component in this treatment as it helps stimulate lymphatic flow. Try this inexpensive but effective treatment at least 3 times a week.

Additional recommended treatments include massage, ultrasound, and ginkgo biloba just to name a few. I recently heard that a good spanking (lymphatic drainage massage) will help the blood flow and reduce the lumps. I'm just saying...

February 2, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: Dazzle Them!

Keep teeth strong and dazzling white the natural way: eat fruit. Well not just any fruit, but fruits that contain malic acid including apples, strawberries and pineapples. Don't believe me? Drink a cup of tea, coffee or a dark soda. Then take a fresh strawberry, cut in half and rub the fruit across your teeth a few times. Voilà! The malic acid acts as an astringent and helps remove stains from enamel. Cool, huh?

Some suggest you mix the pulp of the fruit with baking soda as a tooth paste, but be aware that while this works amazingly well over time baking soda treatments can cause sensitivity and should be limited to a few times a week.

So when Mom said, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" I guess she meant the dentist.

February 1, 2009

Beauty Tip of the Day: When Live Gives You Lemons...

Here's a beauty tip for your home. We are really busy and everyone eats at different times in our house, so we use our microwave oven a lot. When it's time to clean and refresh your nuker try this natural and cost effective cleansing technique.

Pour 2 cups of water in a microwave safe container and mix in a tablespoon or two of straight citrus juice, either fresh or bottled. Lemon, lime, grapefruit - it's your choice. Microwave the water uncovered until it reaches boiling and continue to boil for a minute or two allowing the steam to build up in the unit. Leave the oven closed and let the cleansing steam work to remove odors and food particles. After 5-10 minutes open the oven door (there will be a lot of steam so be careful) and remove the water/citrus juice mix and dump it down your food disposal to help refresh it too. With a damp towel wipe down the inside of your microwave and let it stand open for a bit to air out.

If your microwave just needs a quick refresher wet an absorbent cleaning rag or towel (I use a bar towel) with water mixed with lemon juice and place in the unit. Nuke for about 2 minutes and let set for another 2 minutes. Wearing gloves to protect your hands - the towel is going to be pretty hot - wipe down the inside of the microwave and throw the towel in the wash. Don't you just love a simple solution!