Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Entertain Picky Eaters

Pick Pick PICK!  I actually find the term somewhat condescending but "picky" eaters are growing exponentially these days.  Let me start from the beginning.  When I say picky I don't mean kids that don't like broccoli, I'm actually encompassing those who cannot or will not eat certain mainstream foods because of allergies or other dietary restrictions.  Now, as a gluten-free vegan, if I'm not queen of the picky eaters I'm most certainly a member of the court.  I have a pretty extensive list of things I both can't and won't consume that seems daunting to most.  But working in restaurants I've met worse.  With the rise in dietary trends and lifestyles like the paleolithic diet, the blood type diet and the baby food diet (get real with this one kids) people have restrictions up the wazoo.  Now with food allergies also on the rise there's a bit more care to be taken.  Because of my structured food choices I'm pretty good at understanding and therefore deciphering what people can and cannot consume and working around it, but its difficult for some.   As the summer comes to a close you may be planning a farewell to pool parties extravaganza or you may be like me and in anticipation of cooler days and lovely dinner parties.  However you slice it, I'm sure you want everyone to enjoy themselves.  So here are some easy ways to combat crazy limitations that are in direct conflict with your general lifestyle when you're entertaining.

  • Send an E-vite and request to a list with any food allergies be attached to the RSVP
  • Make it potluck:  This is something my mother find's particularly repulsive but in all honesty I wish I could bring my own food to more engagements as opposed to feeling like an imposition to many.
  • Prepare food that can be presented a la carte: Things like taco and enchilada bars with each item in its respective vessel
  • Avoid the use of common allergens: Soy, peanuts or tree nuts, wheat...
  • Provide one or two secondary options: For those with wheat or milk allergies offer corn tortillas or a dairy free cheese
  • Try to include as many organic or all natural options as is affordable:  This can sometimes limit the amount of disappointed guests you may come across
  • Consult your grocer:  The vendor tends to know what he has in stock and typically is knowledgeable about products for dietary restrictions.  This is easier to do in more specialty shops like Trader Joes or Whole Foods or even your smaller, privately owned stores. 
  • After everyone has responded with their preferences send a menu confirmation:  If people know what's being served they can alert you to anything they've forgotten to mention.  
  • Use separate pans or grill space for each food type: Limiting cross contamination is super key 

Its very important to read labels as well guys.  I feel like we always forget to check out what
we're putting into our bodies and its so beneficial to know for our own health.  While it may seem like a hassle, honestly its easier than it sounds.  Before you know it, it will rapidly become second nature.  And if you follow just some of these suggestions you'll have a delightful get together.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Best Shampoo for Curly Hair by Shea Moisture


I cannot begin to express how much I LOVE this shampoo. I only own 3 products from this entire line and I adore them all, but the shampoo I find to be so amazing because it's the first shampoo that I've come across with such amazing ingredients.  Prior to this, I've tried different shampoos and I was a heavy co-washer (washing with conditioner only) so I'd probably use actual shampoo like once per month. With this product, I now use shampoo for every wash and the results have left my hair feeling softer, clean, and healthier.  I typically only lather 1-2x per wash and I must say, my hair never feels stripped. At first I was nervous that it would feel stripped because of how well this product lathers.  Keep in mind that some dryness will occur because it's still a cleansing agent so make sure you have a good conditioner to use afterwards. This shampoo really does a great job with cleaning your hair while also moisturizing it at the same time and is easy to rinse out too. Another plus, it smells really good!  I personally love and prefer hair products that smell good.



I am an ingredient maniac. I will literally spend long periods of time in the aisles at food and beauty stores Googling ingredients to help determine if I want to buy a product or not. As a shampoo, I am thoroughly impressed with the ingredients for this particular product. It is 100% organic and doesn't contain sulfates, parabens, phtalates, paraffin, gluten, propylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, PABA, synthetic color,  DEA, and no animal testing! How awesome, right?? I was excited to read that RIGHT on the bottle. Besides containing silk protein and neem oil as described on the front of the bottle- the first 5 ingredients are: water, sugar beets, coconut oil, shea butter, and aloe vera leaf juice.  The significance of that, as I'm sure most of you know, is that the closer the ingredient is to the label "Ingredients", the more prominent the ingredient is in the overall product. So that means those first 5 ingredients are basically the bulk of the shampoo!  The rest of the ingredients are still pretty impressive for a shampoo.


I highly, highly recommend this shampoo to anyone with wavy, curly, and kinky curly hair. It's only $9.99 and can be easily found at Target and Walgreens.
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Spiderman, Crawl Your Way to Fitness!


It’s the Spiderman! This is a wonderful exercise that builds joint strength and stability and also works your core! This exercise also works your arms, legs, and back! It can be done in place (as demonstrated in the photos) or done while crawling (as demonstrated in the video below)!

Doing Them IN Place:

Position A: place your forearms on the floor, elbows under your shoulders, and extend your legs behind you, knees on the floor, right leg extended to be parallel to the floor.




Position B: bend your right knee toward the outside of your right elbow. Hold & repeat.

15 reps; 3 sets- go!

 Doing Them While and Crawling:


 Good Luck!!

[Source: Sunina.com]
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The Buzz on Red Wine, To Chill or Not To Chill?

This summer I've noticed a great disturbance to my world of wines.  It started when I noticed my roommate would keep her YellowTail brand Shiraz in the fridge.  I bit my tongue because I know it's impolite to point out when someone is being completely gauche.  However, as the summer progressed and drinking wine outside became more and more frequent I noticed chilled red wines were all over the place.  After doing a little internet research I discovered it was me who was in the wrong.  As it turns out, red wine is to be served in more than one temperature and it all depends on the type of wine.  Not to mention that way back in the day, when wine was made and the temperatures for this delightful libation were set, people stored wine in castles and cellars where the actual room temperature was a bit cooler than our somewhat balmy American homes.  In other words, your reds need to spend a little time chilling out in order to get the true flavor.  So you know that old lady sitting next to you at the cafe who asks for ice with her glass of Cabernet?  She's not so far off.  But don't get crazy with it.  Reds should not be cold, just chilled.  And alongside this, your whites and blushes need to be a tad bit warmer.  In other words, let them sit out for about half an hour before you serve them.  

Okay, so now you ask, which wines are served how?  That's a legitimate question.  I checked in to this website that gave me the complete lowdown on deciphering which wines to chill and how.  So okay, your more commonplace red wines that you chill just slightly to what would be an old world room temperature I gave an acronym to remember it by.  This may or may not be helpful but think of it in doubles: BB CC SS MZ.  Can you guess what they are?  Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cabernet, Chianti, Shiraz, Syrah, Merlot and Zinfandel.  Or a little easier to think of: What is generally at eye level in the Trader Joe's Wine Shop.  Good right?

So the reds recommended to be slightly cooler than the others are Pinot Noir and Rose.  Now personally this will be a bit of an adjustment for me.  As an avid red wine drinker, I prefer it the way I've always felt God and modernism intended.  But as I grow older, and I entertain more often I feel it prudent to get it right.  Yes that's right ladies, its time to grow up and face the fact that we must chill our red wines. Now in regards to whites, I think its a bit more simple.  Let them hangout for something like fifteen minutes prior to serving to warm up some and you're good to go.  Just the simplicity of that makes it feel more doable.  And actually check out this site and this site because they were the most helpful. 
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15 Tips for Natural Hair Care


More and more you see women sporting their beautiful, natural curls. Whether, for you, it's a statement, acceptance, for convenience, or a fashion fad... proper care is essential.  With the proper care you'll notice drastic changes in texture, curl pattern, elasticity, color, and growth. At first, it may seem like a lot of maintenance, but after awhile you'll notice it's actually a lot easier than all the other stuff you used to do!

Nix shampoos with sulfates  
Sulfates strip the hair of needed moisture and natural oil, drying it out. You will notice an immediate difference in your hair by following this step alone. Sulfates play a huge role in that dry, knotty, hard to manage hair we've all experienced at one point. Get the right shampoo and get to a life of ease, seriously! Your hair will be so much easier to detangle and much more manageable just after a couple washes.  I HIGHLY recommend "Coconut & Hibiscus: Curl and Shine Shampoo" by Shea Moisture, they are sulfate-free and the ingredients are amazing with water, shea butter, and coconut oil as the first ingredients. 
 
Deep Condition 
Deep conditioning is so crucial for natural curly hair.  One thing that natural hair craves is moisture! By deep conditioning your hair at least once per week you are giving your locks the restorative moisture it needs to stay strong and prevent breakage. I typically deep condition with homemade hair masks and each hair mask is designed to add specific vitamins, protein and other benefits in addition to just moisturizing.

Keep Your Hair and Scalp Clean
Not often stressed but an essential step!  With your natural hair, you're more free to wash as often as you please. Unlike if you have processed hair. Whether you wash with sulfate-free shampoo or you co-wash (wash with conditioner only) it's important to figure out how often your hair needs to be washed. I wash my hair 1-2x per week or as needed. My scalp changes with the seasons. It's crucial to keep your scalp as clean as possible so it can remain healthy and easily grow hair. If your scalp pores are clogged, guess what? That means your hair is going to have a tougher time growing. We often tend to forget that the skin beneath our hair needs equal care and nourishment - just like the rest of it. Taking care of the scalp is very important for healthy hair growth.  In fact, your hair follicles depend heavily on the surrounding tissue for their blood supply to remain healthy. And you can help keep your scalp happy and healthy by keeping it clean. Plus, don't you just love the scent of your shampoo/conditioner when the wind blows your hair?

Get a Trim 

I know that sometimes when hair growth is the goal... the last thing you want to do is hear anything about using scissors! But believe it or not, a trim is a very important process in hair care. Keep up with your split and dead ends for a healthy head of hair.  I trim 1-2 times per year if necessary. However, the better care you take of your hair... the less likely it is that you'll need a trim.

No Microfiber or Towel Drying  
Contrary to popular belief, microfiber rips the hair out. It acts like velcro to our tresses! Towel drying frizzes the hair. Either air dry or use an old t-shirt. If you must use a towel to dry your hair, gently apply the towel to sections of your hair and squeeze the water out of your hair... do NOT do the scrunching and rubbing method as this causes breakage.

Refrigerate your Leave-in Conditioner
A cold leave in will help to seal your hair’s cuticle after washing. This is extremely helpful if you can’t take a cold water rinse. It will also increase the shine in your hair. 

Apply a light oil after Moisturizing
Oils work as sealants in most cases. I recommend, once you have all your moisturizing creams and leave-in conditioners in your hair. Lightly apply some oil over your hair, whether it's loose or twisted up. Just a light amount so your hair doesn't feel greasy. What this does is, it helps seals in all the moisture that you just applied to your hair so that your hair follicles can continue to absorb the moisture throughout the day. I always do this after a wash, the results typically last until my next wash. FOCUS ON YOUR ENDS! The ends of our hair is generally the weakest and most prone to drying out and then breaking off so make sure you are also moisturizing and sealing your ends.  Oils that I recommend for lightly sealing: Castor oil, Coconut oil, and Jojoba oil. Again- LIGHTLY oil, but enough to seal.

Massage your scalp to stimulate your hair follicles 2-3 times per week 
It is said that this stimulates hair growth by increasing blood flow to the scalp.  I'd recommend massaging some good ole castor oil into your scalp because castor oil is an awesome anti-fungal, anti-dandruff agent...and it's also known to encourage hair growth.
 
Take a Good Hair Vitamin and Eat a Balanced Diet 
Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, for a list of foods that are great for hair care and growth- click here.  Taking a good hair vitamin can aid in hair growth if you have a hard time keeping a balanced diet that would normally provide the necessary nutrients.

Never sleep on your hair loose
It’s more prone to tangling and breakage. Tie it up and make satin your hair’s best friend. Sleeping in a satin scarf, bonnet or on a satin pillowcase prevents your hair’s moisture from being robbed. It also prevents unnecessary tangling and breakage.  I recommend twisting your hair up before bed. Spray light amount of water on each section before twisting so your hair can remain vibrant the next day!

Moisturize your hair as needed
Use your sense of touch to tell. Our hair is naturally prone to dryness... however, it is not meant to be dry. So if it feels dry... moisturize!

Find a routine that works for your hair and stick with it
Don't be a product junkie and don't make your hair care routine any more complex than it needs to be. Fact: Everyone's hair is different and everyone's hair responds differently to different products.  Find what works for you and just stick with it. Makes everything so much simpler, cheaper, and less time consuming. If your hair is fine with coconut oil there's no need to keep buying jojoba, almond, grapeseed- etc. etc. Unless it's apart of another process of your routine of course. Sometimes, you'll find that your hair stops responding to certain products... that's when it's time to try something different. Until then... worry less.
  
Stop heat styling your hair  
Air drying is the best thing you can do to keep your hair on your head. The second best, in my opinion, is sitting under a hooded dryer. Blow dryer's can be very harsh and are a very direct source of heat. Limit heat styling to rare, special occasions to avoid breakage and heat damage. Trust me, heat damage is something you do not want.

Always use a wide-toothed comb, never comb your hair when it's dry, and comb hair from the bottom up: When your hair is soaking wet and coated in conditioner, you can comb it with a large tooth comb or Denman brush to detangle. Do so carefully, working from the ends of your hair to the root (bottom up). Combing your hair while it's dry can cause a lot of friction that leads to breakage. Always at least dampen your hair before combing it. & remember, the best gentle detangler of all... is your fingers!


Use hair accessories with no hanging parts or exposed metal 
Banana clips, Satin Scrunchies, Goodie Flex Barrettes, Ouchless bobby pins & Ouchless elastic bands are the best for styling hair so that it does not get damaged. 



Go ahead... Fall in LOVE with your hair!





[photos: blackgirllonghair.com]
 
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Monday, August 26, 2013

3 Hot Styles to Stay Cool With

In these grueling hot summer months the last thing that any girl needs is having sticky hair all over their neck to add to the misery. As much as I love the look of having long locks down my back, 80 and 90 degree weather just doesn't make it practical. Here are some fun summer hairstyles you can do using Not Your Mother’s hair products that are sure to help you stay cool! The best part about these styles is that they can be worn in the daytime or they can be dressed up with accessories for a night out.  


Style 1 - Twisted Knots

 
Start this style off by dividing your hair into two sections by making a horizontal part from ear to ear. Use either a clip or a pin to secure the top section out of the way so that you can work with the bottom half first. Pull the bottom into a tight ponytail.  Release the top section and make that into a slightly looser (yet still sleek) ponytail. The reason for making a looser ponytail on top is to hide the parting of the hair. Brush the hair from both ponytails to get all of the knots out. Part the bottom ponytail into two sections and twist them over one another until you get to the tips of the hair, then make a bun with the twist and pin in against your head tucking the ends underneath. Make another twist and bun with the ponytail on the top and pin it just above the bottom bun. Finish it off with Not Your Mother’s Rise & Shine mist to make the style look smooth and polished.

Style 2 - A Halo Braid



Start this style off by spraying your hair with Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe texturizing spray and scrunching it to create texture. Next make a deep side part in your and begin French braiding the hair in a circle on the top of your head starting with the side of the part that has more hair. Continue braiding around your head until there is no more hair at the crown to French braid and then continue a standard 3 strand brand down your hair until you get to the tips. Finish the style by tucking the loose end of the braid underneath the base of where the French braid started to hide it, and then pin it in place.







Style 3 - A Messy Bun


Begin this style by making a high ponytail. Spray the ponytail with Not Your Mother’s She’s A Tease volumizing hairspray. Use a comb or brush to tease the entire ponytail and then spray the hair again. Next wrap the teased hair into a large messy bun and pin it into your desired shape.




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7 Easy Steps to Becoming Master of The Grill


Anything guys can do, we can do better! Right? Maybe? Ok look, there are only a few more weeks left to summer. I know, where did it go!? It's like just yesterday it was June 1st.  But if you're like me, then you're probably trying to squeeze in the last bits of summer style fun to make up for either all the fun you feel you didn't have time to experience and/or to make up for all the non-fun you're going to experience come September.  Either way, I'm sure at some point grilling food will be involved as which to everyone's delight, I give you: These 7 easy and awesome tips on how to grill with perfection... yes, using an actual grill and not a grill pan.

First thing's first... Leave fear at the door!  Don't be afraid that you'll ruin everyone's burgers, you gotta be in this to win this and you will... win this!


1. CHARCOAL VS. GAS

There are two kinds of grills: charcoal and gas. If you're looking to buy a grill, here's how to decide which kind you want:

Charcoal. If you like the hands-on experience of building a fire and you can wait 30 minutes for the coals to be ready, charcoal is for you.
  • Requires building, starting, and maintaining the fire
  • Requires disposing of ashes and cleaning of the grill
  • Portable, easy to move
  • Costs less initially but charcoal has to be purchased for each cookout
Gas. If you like being able to push a button and be ready to grill in 15 minutes, gas is for you.
  • Preheats and is ready to cook in 15 minutes
  • Low-maintenance fire
  • Easy to light and easy to control cooking temperature
  • Easy to operate and clean
  • Costs more initially but inexpensive to maintain


2. SHOPPING LIST

Charcoal. For charcoal grill owners, this is essential. You can find it packaged at your local supermarket, home goods store, or drugstore.
Skewers. Skewering makes cooking shrimp, vegetables, chunks of meat, and other small items very simple. We recommend using inexpensive bamboo skewers; just soak them in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.
Tongs. Use two pairs of tongs. Mark one pair with red tape (red = stop) and use it for handling raw food. Mark the other with green tape (green = go) and use it for cooked food. This will help to prevent cross-contamination.
Food. Get whatever grub you want to grill!


3. HOW TO LIGHT THE FIRE

Personally, this is something I used to always struggle with. The first step is to light the fire. This is the most basic step in outdoor cooking, yet many people are still confused by it. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Charcoal:
  • Remove the lid and open all air vents.
  • Mound 50-60 charcoal briquettes into a pyramid-shaped pile.
  • Place either nontoxic fire starters or crumbled newspaper under the pile of briquettes and light.
  • When the briquettes are covered with a white-gray ash (usually 20 to 30 minutes), arrange them in a single layer.
Gas:
  • Open the lid. Check that all burner control knobs are turned off and that your LP tank is not empty.
  • Turn the LP Gas tank on.
  • Light the grill according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using either the igniter or a match, if necessary. Generally, when lighting a gas grill, only one burner should be turned on for ignition. Once the fire has started, other burners can be turned on.
  • Close the lid and preheat all burners on high until the thermometer reaches the maximum heat—more than 500° to 550°F. This will take 10 to 20 minutes. Before cooking, adjust burner controls and lower the heat as recipe directs.


4. KEY INGREDIENTS

Meet the Grilling Trilogy: olive oil, salt, and pepper. This is a simple flavoring for just about anything you can grill. Use the best-quality raw ingredients with this trio of ingredients, and everything that you grill will be delicious. Remember, in most cases—in life and in cooking—less is more, and the Grilling Trilogy is the epitome of that.

5. IS IT DONE YET?

Besides lighting the grill, figuring out when the food is “done,” much less perfectly prepared, makes many cooks quiver in their flip-flops. Not to worry; arm yourself with these two tools (both are inexpensive!):

A timer. Set the timer for the number of minutes that you think the food will need before turning, etc. Base this estimate on the recipe or your past experience.

An instant-read thermometer. Use your instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature to see if your timing is correct. Remember, grilling is much more of an art than a science, and cooking times will vary slightly based on many factors, including wind, thickness of food, starting temperature of food (refrigerator cold vs. room temperature), grill preheating time, and temperature of the fire. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize that the mystery is part of the game of grilling and what makes it so much fun!


6. GRILLING DO'S AND DONT'S

DO:
  • Keep the air vents open, or else the fire will go out.
  • Make sure charcoal briquettes are gray-ashed before cooking.
  • Control flare-ups with a closed lid, not a spray bottle filled with water.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer, the only fail-safe way to test for doneness. The thermometer reads the internal temperature of meat and poultry in a matter of seconds.
DON'T:
  • Peek under the lid; every time you lift the lid, heat escapes and the cooking time increases.
  • Add volatile fuel to the fire; this means no lighter fluid. Use either crumbled newspaper or fire starter cubes.
  • Flip food more than once unless a recipe specifically requires it.
  • Pierce meat with a fork; this lets all the precious juices and flavor escape.

7. HOW TO TAME THE FLAME

The quickest way to extinguish flare-ups is to put the lid on the grill. The lid will reduce the amount of oxygen that feeds the fire—thus limiting or snuffing out any flare-ups. Don’t be tempted to use a water bottle to extinguish flare-up flames. When the water hits the hot cooking grates and the flames, it can splatter, causing burns to you and/or cracks in the porcelain enamel finish on your grill.



So.... Ready to grill?




[photo: glamour (Source)]

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Clarisonic: Your Weapon Against Blemishes


 
We all want radiant smooth skin. One way to achieve it is by exfoliation- the removal of dead skin by using a scrub, microdermabrasion, cosmetic peels, where each level of intensity varies. Most of these services are done in a spa. However, why would you pay hundreds to do it in a spa when you can achieve the same results in your home with the Clarisonic Brush? This is a revolutionary product that not only exfoliates but decongests pores and refines skin texture. The sonic frequency moves Clarisonic's soft, gentle brush back and forth at more than 300 times per second, thoroughly clearing pores and skin surface. 
The Clarisonic has three speeds, allowing it to be gentle enough for cleansing the face yet strong enough to be effective on the décolleté, neck, back and arms. It basically vibrates the dirt and make up off out of your pores. To apply, just use any cleanser of your choice. Although, it is recommended to buy their cleansing sets, your favorite cleanser will do. Replacement brushes are to be changed every 3 months. There are different types of brushes for oily and sensitive skin types. This product can also be used by men. It is great before shaving to prevent ingrown hairs.
I do recommend the Clarisonic Brush because you get what you pay for. It penetrates deep to remove product build up that may be sitting atop the epidermis layer of skin that may be missed while using traditional methods. Being that there will be minimal product build up, products will tend to absorb better. Also, many product lines promise to erase years of wrinkles, layers of hyperpigmentation and to make skin more youthful but fail to do what is promoted. We have access to the most treasured beauty rituals of the past and now you can add one of that is ahead of its time. Why not add Clarisonic to your beauty routine?
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

DIY: Avocado and Banana Hair Mask

Homemade hair masks are one of my favorite things to make! They're effective, they're inexpensive, and they're super easy to do.  Avocado, thus far, is one of my go-to ingredients when making a deep conditioning hair mask- it always helps to define my natural curls and adds shine to my hair so it's an ingredient that I use much more often than anything else. In the past I've done two different types of masks, one consisting of avocado as the main ingredient and the other consisting of banana as the main ingredient. But recently, I've been combining the two, both the avocado and the banana, and I'm LOVING the results. It leaves my hair soft, shiny, defined, and bouncy! Treat yourself to a deep conditioning hair mask once per week!

What you need:
1 ripe Avocado (or 2 depending on your hair length and thickness)
1 Banana  (or 2 depending on your hair length and thickness)
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
1 tbsp of Honey
(I fluctuate how much olive oil and honey I use from time to time.)


Instructions:
1. Peel avocado and banana and place into the blender along with other ingredients.
2. Blend together ingredients (You can also do this by hand, but I highly recommend pureeing this mixture as it makes it much easier to rinse out later.)
3. Apply to hair.
4. Put a shower cap over your hair.
5. Leave in for 30-45 minutes. 
(or sit under a hooded dryer for 30 minutes)
6. Rinse hair and wash hair.


Benefits:
This mixture will take your dull and dry hair and give it life, shine, and softness!   Avocados are rich in potassium, Vitamin E, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin K,  fiber, folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, copper and protein and have been used in treating many skin and hair ailments. Banana has potassium, natural oils, and vitamins. It also creates manageability and controls dandruff. Banana helps soften hair and protects hair’s natural elasticity, by protecting the hair's natural elasticity you can prevent breakage and split ends. Olive Oil can help cure dandruff problems, adds shine, and it adds moisture which improves manageability.. Honey serves as an excellent conditioner for hair, has anti-bacterial properties for a healthy scalp, and acts as a humectant preventing hair loss by preventing loss of moisture.

You can apply this mask to dry hair, damp hair, or shampooed hair. I have tried it all 3 ways and I personally like to apply it to my damp hair before shampooing. It works well for me that way, but you may find that doing this deep condition after shampoo works more to your liking. It's your hair so of course you want to find what works best for you.
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The Do's and Don'ts of Popping a Pimple


We all get them, we all hate them and we all want to get rid of them the quickest way possible.  Desperate times may call for desperate measures and sometimes we do more harm than good when we are trying to speed up a pimple's process.  Pimples happen when dead skins cells are left behind and mix with sebum (oily/waxy matter secreted by our sebaceous glands) which creates blockage within our pores.  Treat your pimple with care, even though it may not be open, still consider it a wound.
There are few things to keep in mind when dealing with an obnoxious pimple.

1.  DO wait until your pimple comes to a head before you attempt to pop.
2.  DON'T use your nails when trying to pop a pimple.  This can damage the skin and cause scarring.
3.  If you are going to pop a pimple, DO use a cotton swab on either side of the pimple to expel it's contents and DO so right after a shower when your pores are most open.
4.  DO change or wash your pillowcase often if you have oily or sensitive skin.
5.  DON'T touch your face.  Every time you touch, you transfer the germs, bacteria and oils from your hands.
6.  DO try and sanitize your phone after use.  Oils from your face get left behind and next time you use your phone, you transfer them back to your skin.
7.  DON'T pick at your pimple.  If needs time to heal and picking at it may cause an infection or scarring.


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10 Ways to Eat Your Hummus

So I've been on a hummus kick lately.  You know the kind where you absolutely cannot get enough of it and satiation feels next to impossible.  That's where I am with hummus but luckily its hummus and not pizza.  Anyway, due to my obsession I felt it prudent to share with you some of the crafty ways I've learned to serve this treat.  Now, there's nothing more delicious than home made hummus, but if you don't have the time then the store brands are still pretty delightful.  The beauty of store bought is that you can try some of the truly nontraditional flavors that are currently on the shelves.  Let me tell you guys, I have seen some interesting styles.  I've seen truffle hummus and hummus with different types of beans... Trader Joe's makes the most wonderful edamame hummus.  Now, I'm partial to a few flavor combos.  I like the smoothness of the hummus with added texture from a competing element and a mix of tastes. You may have concocted a few of these on your own but certainly not all. 

  1. Granny Smith apples or other fruit: Slice up some sweet slightly tart fruit like pears or pink lady apples even some star fruit or cantaloupe if you want to get super wild with it.  The contrast in flavors is so nice.
  2. Served warm with cheese onions and tomatoes: I used to work at a restaurant in Boston that served hummus this way.  They would serve it warm with cheddar cheese, onions and tomatoes.  For a dairy free option try Daiya brand cheddar shreds or without cheese at all is still pretty wonderful. 
  3. Make Mediterranean inspired tacos:  Don't worry this is easier than it sounds.  Just pile in hummus, feta (or dairy free feta), kalamata olives, diced tomato, arugula, and maybe some pine nuts into either a corn envelope or flat bread (kind of like a soft taco).
  4. With a spoon: This is an underrated option.  But just like peanut butter from the jar is comforting and delectable, so is hummus.  Throw a few tomatoes and nuts in there for some texture and bon apetit!
  5. Instead of salad dressing: Mix with a bit of olive or sesame oil and a touch of white balsamic and mix in with your salad. 
  6. In place of mayo on sandwiches: Nix the high fat/ high sugar spreads and slather on the hummus. 
  7. Make a Mediterranean pizza:  This is my favorite.  Grab a pre-made pizza crust from your grocer and spread a decent layer of hummus instead of sauce.  Top with olives, mushrooms, artichokes, spinach and feta or mozz. 
  8. As a dipping sauce for fries or veggie fries:  Ketchup is so five years ago!  Use hummus as a delightful dip for sweet potato or cauliflower fries!
  9. As a binding agent for veggie burgers:  Make veggie burgers yourself with an array of beans and veggies and instead of all that breading or egg, just mix in a little heart healthy hummus!
  10. Stuff n veggies and grill:  Oh man, this is good.  Hollow out campari tomatoes, little bell peppers... whatever your heart desires and add quinoa and ground meat or veggie crumbles.  Top with hummus and and sear the bottom on the grill.  It just doesn't get any better.
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cross Cross Reach, Easy Flat Abs


Just because summer is ending, doesn't mean the workouts end too...  Besides, Labor Day weekend is approaching! This workout is called the "Cross Cross Reach" and will flatten your abs in no time. No equipment necessary!

Position A (above): back straight, palms to the floor at your sides, legs extended out in front of you.
Position B (below): lift your left leg up, reach your right arm towards your toes- touch your toes!
Position C (below): other leg/arm!

15 reps each side; 2 sets- go!





[Sunina.com]
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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Busy Girl's Guide to Wearing "Dirty" Hair



We all do it and we all have our go-to dirty hair styles.  The ponytail.  The top knot.  The messy bun.  Sometimes you hit the snooze button one too many times or you had late night with a new guy or you would just rather actually sit down and eat breakfast instead of washing, drying and styling your hair.  Aside from laziness, we know there are solid reasons why we don't want to wash our hair everyday.  But the key to rockin' dirty hair is to not make it look like dirty hair.  Here are some things you might want to consider before stepping into the shower.  

- When we wash our hair, we strip our hair and scalp of the oils our body naturally produces.  The more we wash, the more our body feels the need to replace the oils we take away.  We can train our hair to not over produce oil by simply not washing away what our hair needs as often.  Our hair is a fiber just like wool or silk.  The more we wash a fiber the worse it will look.  

- If you color your hair, washing your hair means you're washing more money down the drain.  Every time you wash, you strip your hair of not only its oils, but of the color you spent hundreds of dollars on and hours at the salon trying to achieve.  

- Creating at home up-dos are a lot easier to manage with dirty hair.  The oils allow for your up do to hold, along with alleviating the need to use more product to keep your hair from slipping and sliding.  

Dirty hair doesn't always mean you have to put it up.  Depending on your hair and scalp type, one product can make all the difference for your second day hair.  There are many products out there now that will help keep your style fresh and here are just a few:


Bumble and bumble Tonic Shampoo is great for those hair product junkie and oily scalps.  Perfect to shampoo with if you go two or more days without washing your hair and a very man friendly shampoo.  Packed with Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint extracts, this shampoo helps to soothe the scalp, balance oil productions and stimulates circulation.  This shampoo does offer a deep cleansing so it is not suitable for color-treated hair.








Unite's Expanda Dust helps add texture and volume to limp hair.  Apply to the root and then rub into the scalp and you will instantly feel your hair come back to life.  This product does add a bit of grit to your hair so it works great for those with fine and thin hair.  Packed with potato, tapioca and corn starch which gives your the volume and texture, it also helps to absorb oil.











Psssssst Instant Dry Shampoo is an affordable drugstore product that every girl should have on hand.  Spray onto hair at least six inches away for an even application and to help prevent the appearance of a white residue.  Made to absorb excess dirt and oils, this a great as a blowout refresher and has a light, clean scent.  Be sure to brush through your hair after application for the best result.







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Jump Your Way into Skinny Jeans, Literally

So I don't know if you've noticed but YouTube has ads now.  Not the dinky ones that pop up at the bottom of your screen that you can exit out of but actual commercials that appear before the one minute video you're about to watch.  I was preparing to watch a makeup tutorial on YouTube when I saw an ad for rebounding.  The reason I watched it was because A) I already have a trampoline and B) the commercial used a clip from that show "The Doctors" where they featured a specific trampoline and gabbed on and on about it's amazing abilities.  Now this clip claimed that ten minutes on the trampoline has the same health benefits as thirty minutes of running.  WHAT?!  This is appealing.  Like a lot of normal ladies I go through phases where exercise engages me.  I can go a good eight months with regular workouts but when I decide to skip the yoga studio for a day or two, forget about it!  It can take months for me to get back in the saddle again.  Only my self loathing propels me to get off the couch and take it to the treadmill. 



Now, a while back I got a mini trampoline on a suggestion from a friend (I was definitely working out regularly then).  I've had it for maybe about two years and I'd rarely used it until I looked up some stats on rebounding.  Like the fact that it's called rebounding as opposed to trampolining because its much lower to the ground.  Also, while it was officially created ages ago, it was redeveloped in the mid nineties by injured athlete JB Berns as a low impact alternative to his routine.  Also, it moves oxygen through the body and to your tissues.  There are actually more great facts here.



The good thing about personal trampolines is that they're pretty inexpensive.  I paid thirty dollars for mine on Amazon.  You can buy them from Sports Authority or one of the sporting goods stores but I find you can grab a better deal online.  Another trampoline incentive... you can work out in your undies.  Since you're doing it at home you really can put in a minimal effort to your physical appearance.  In other words, if you want to condition your body without having to think too much about it definitely snag one of these babies for under forty bucks or pop into the next class offered at your gym.  Really, you won't be sorry!





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Cocktail Inspired Makeup, A New Kind of Happy Hour


As a NYC Makeup Artist I find that at times it can be difficult to grab my attention. Inadvertently, I’ve adapted a “seen it all, heard it all” way of thinking when it comes to basically everything. On a trip to Duane Reade to replenish face wipes, I came across a makeup display that made me stop and stare in awe. The line was called Tini Beauty and the beauty products are all based on cocktails – cheers! I had never seen high end makeup in a drug store before, especially something as cool as this. The concept was uniquely brilliant and the visual merchandising was so fascinating that you have no choice but to be intrigued. Reading the product names made me laugh out loud because I felt like I was being transported into a cocktail lounge for real. With names such as Ameretto, Cuba Libre, and Sloe Gin Fizz I couldn’t help but smile. There was no way that I was leaving that drug store without some product. Along with my face wipes, I picked up some items from the Liptini and Eyetini lounge and proceeded to checkout.


I couldn't wait to get home and play with my Tini Beauty goodies, I had no idea what to expect so I was really curious. I immediately fell in love with an ultra-intense black mascara called Black Russian. The mascara volumizes and lengthens the lashes incredibly without causing clumps. Another clear standout was Liqueur Lip and Cheek Stain in a gorgeous red color called SoCo (as in the liqueur Southern Comfort). In the past I’ve had issues with stains being blotchy but the SoCo color applied evenly. My very favorite item was and still is the Eye Cordial Cream Shadow Tint that also doubles as a base to build color intensity. I became instantly obsessed with the shade Dirty Martini which is a pretty, shimmering olive green color. In the daytime it can be worn on the top lid for a pop of color, at night it can be applied to the top and bottom lid with dark liner for a smoky effect.
Overall, the Tini Beauty lounge serves up fun libation-based cosmetics that are sure to wet any makeup lover’s whistle. With such a whimsical idea it could be easy to mask an inferior product with smart branding, but Tini Beauty still delivers on quality. As usual I’m going to keep it real, although it can be found in Duane Reade drug stores it is not priced like typical drug store makeup. Being that Tini Beauty is a higher end brand its price reflects that. Most of the products are about $18-$24 per item. They’re highly pigmented which means you don’t need to use much, so in my opinion they are completely worth the money. Do yourself a favor and visit the Tini Beauty cocktail lounge at a participating retailer or at their online store, you’ll thank me later!
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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hitting Whitewater for a Fabulous Workout

Let us flashback to our high school and college days when you'd see the crew team walking through the halls or gathered in the dining room together.  They had the best lean muscles and this air of exclusivity about them.  Well there is a way to feel like part of that team for just a little bit.  Go rafting!!  Whitewater rafting is a super fun way to workout your arms, abs and inner Indiana Jones.  I went for the first time yesterday and let me tell you it was a blast.  

So, I went with a group of nine to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Pocono Whitewater has two levels of whitewater rafting and I went on the easier of the two because it was my first time.  I can't say enough how much fun I had!  The general rule is about six to a raft so we divided into groups of five and four.  After a brief photo session and safety tutorial everyone hopped on the buses and headed to the river.  Now, Pocono Whitewater has set things up in such a way that they're open to families and small children.  Seeing a few groups of kids let me know I wasn't truly chancing my life. At any rate, we got to rafting and realized that the crew team was on to something.  Hard work that's fun in the process is difficult to come by.  My raft-mates and I had water fights with the other boats and made our way from the back of the line to the front.  It was just such a good time we didn't realize how exhausted we were until after we returned from our four hour excursion.  The bus ride back to the main site was filled with snoozing participants.  



Now, if four hours isn't your thing then definitely check out some local paddle boating or kayaking deals in your area.  Those that are done on the tidal basin or in local non white water bodies of water are pretty fun and you can get similar workouts in with your friends and family.  But if you can get to some whitewater before the summer's out then definitely do!  Its a total blast and great workout. 


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Friday, August 16, 2013

DIY: Coconut Body Butter, The Simplest DIY Ever

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Every girl needs at least one "coconutty" friend. I will share my BFF with the world. All hail the beloved Coconut Oil! Now, although I am a big fan of DIY projects, some can be more trouble than they are worth. Some call for too many tools/ingredients, while others have more steps than I wish to count. It is hands down, the easiest DIY I have ever completed. So, if you are a lazy DIY-er like myself, this is the "pis de resistance"!

DIY Coconut Body Butter:

Tools: Electric Hand Mixer or Standing Mixer, Jar w/ lid
Ingredients: 1 cup of (solid/refrigerated) unrefined Coconut Oil (Trader Joe's brand is least expensive); yields about 5 oz.
                 
*Optional: To boost the fragrance, add any essential oil you like. For mine, I added a bit of lemon juice and a few drops of vanilla extract.

1. Scoop out solidified oil into large bowl and add any other oils you desire.

2. Mix on high speed with either electric or standing mixer for 6-8 min. or until reaching glorious, fluffy status!

Seriously, that's it. You may have doubted the title before, but I have a feeling you are now a believer!

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Now place the fluffy goodness in a glass container with lid and keep on your nightstand or sink. These also make wonderful gifts for any occasion. Not only is this a healthy alternative to all the mineral oils, alcohols, and parabens found in most cheap lotions, it actually moisturizes.This body butter also eliminates the need to go out and buy excess lotions that claim to have you "glittery" or "faux glowing". The coconut body butter leaves a nice, natural sheen that makes you glow, naturally!



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Dashi on My Mind

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Lately I've had a bit of time on my hands. What have I been up to? Obsessing over "Mind of a Chef w/ David Chang" on Netflix. I just can't get enough of the food, technique, camaraderie, and oh yes, Ramen!
Now although I am not part of the gluten free brigade, I love to incorporate substitutions for starch when I can. Insert, Shirataki Noodles. This is a tofu-based noodle that is a wonderful swap for anyone looking to avoid the dreaded "food coma" that follows a big bowl of pasta.
This soup is a nutritional powerhouse. Full of vitamins and antioxidants, this dish will also leave you satisfied. Here is my gluten-free, vegetarian take on David Chang's Ramen Noodle Soup:

20130807-233856.jpgShirataki Ramen w/ Mushroom Dashi: (serves 2)

Ingredients
1 pkg Tofu Shirataki noodles (angel or fettucine)
1 cup of dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups shredded kale
1 stalk of green onion
2 daikon radishes
2 tbl red miso paste (white or yellow also works)
2 tbl liquid aminos (a GF soy sauce substitute)
2 tbl rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbl toasted sesame oil
1 cup roasted shredded seaweed
2 sheets of Dashi Kombu (dried kelp/seaweed)


Directions:
Mushroom Dashi
Fill a saucepan with 4 cups water. Soak dried mushrooms and bring to a rolling boil. Add sesame oil, liquid aminos, and rice wine vinegar. Once mushrooms are reconstituted, break out the hand blender and pulse until smooth. Add more amino and/or vinegar for stronger flavor. Continue to reduce liquid on med-lo.
Ramen and Vegetables
Add sliced daikon and green onion, shredded seaweed and kale to dashi. Follow directions on bag of shirataki noodles. Add noodles to broth and let them soak for 5 min. before serving. Serve it piping hot and use chopsticks for noodles if you're bold! Enjoy!


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