Whit Approved (reviews & discoveries)

I spend a lot of time reading fashion and beauty blogs. Some of my favorites include Refinery29, Byrdie, Cupcakes and Cashmere, WhoWhatWear, Coveteur, etc. I’m always telling friends about recent beauty discoveries or hacks, fashion finds, and workout trends. Recently, my best friend suggested that I start writing about these finds. So, here are my approved beauty, fashion, workout, and lifestyle finds. Enjoy!

 

 

 

FAVORITE Newly Discovered Exercise

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Super-quick. Have to share my recent discovery that I cannot stop doing. First, I should explain that my absolute favorite exercise has and will forever be the pushup. Right about now, you’re thinking, “This girl is BANANAS.” I mean, I’m not talking knee pushups. I love military-style, to the floor, full on pushups. Why? Because they’re a full-body exercise if executed properly. And despite what you might think, when done correctly, and you engage your core, thighs, quads, glutes, arms, chest, shoulders, back, etc., the exercise becomes much easier. You’re engaging more muscles to lift your body, utilizing more muscles for a fuller workout and not just relying on your arms or chest, which is why I think so many people believe pushups are so difficult.

Anyway, back to my NEW fave exercise…the Double Burpee. It’s 2 pushups into a burpee. So take a pushup and add in some cardio. Get to work.

I would’ve had Matt grab of video of me doing this but I’m home alone. So, here’s a good one from YouTube.

Enjoy!

 

From High-Maintenance to Low-ish Maintenance

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Here’s the thing. I would’ve thought that quitting my job and having much, much more time everyday to spend getting ready, i.e., putting on makeup, playing with my hair, and picking out clothes would have consumed so much more of my routine. Spoiler alert, the exact opposite has happened.

So, growing up in the South, I pretty much NEVER left the house without makeup since the age of 12 or 13. That’s something I have carried with me until today. I’m a girly-girl. I love makeup. Sephora is my candy land. You have to pry me out of that place. I have monthly appointments for color and other services at my regular salon.

Before I quit my job of 14 years to focus a full-time search on finding a position in ATL, my morning routine lasted at least an hour. I would wash my hair almost everyday. On days that I’d wash it, we’re talking 90 minutes people.

What does this type-A routine look like now? Well, let’s just say that I’m washing the hair 1-2 times per week, and if you’ve read my posts before you know that I really do recommend the less is more approach to washing. It keeps my color longer and my hair healthier. I also have naturally curly hair that I straighten with a blowdryer so I absolutely want to do that as few times a week as possible. I’ve managed to rely on just re-blowing out my bangs and ends for the first couple days with zero products, then adding some bumble tonic maybe on day 3, and possibly a dry shampoo on the last day if I have to. Keep in mind I’m putting in regular workouts and runs too. So, it’s not like the locks are all peaches n’ cream.

As much as I ADORE products, I’ve started to pare down the makeup when I put on my everyday face. And, I do wear make-up to the gym. I know, I know…sinful. Today, I kept it to 4 products and I’ll even share the post-workout pic-GASP! It’s filter free too. Ouch. Anyway, I typically get up with enough time to eat, wash my face and blow-out my bangs before an 8:45 class so maybe around 7:50.

Here is what I used:

  1. Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation
  2. NARS Radiant Cream Concealer
  3. Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection Face Palette
  4. Chanel Le Volume Waterproof Mascara

Confession, I rehydrated after the workout with Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist.

 

MCT Oil Supplements vs. Coconut Oil vs. Both— Do I Have To Decide?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I’ve talked about, and raved about using coconut oil before, in fact I cook with it quite often. Admittedly, I’m not a great cook. As you may have read in my last post, I can count my recipe repertoire on my 2 hands. For real, ya’ll. Anyway, the “delicacies” (ha ha) I do make like seriously awesome scrambled eggs, no joke, are made even better with coconut oil. Or, at least they had been…

So, let’s back this up, shall we? What is MCT oil? MCTs are medium chain triglycerides. Triglycerides are fatty acids. We could just call MCTs “medium chain fatty acids” with the medium chain referring to the chain length of the fatty acids. Now, you may be thinking, “Ewwwww…why do I want these fatty acids?” Well, the medium chain length fatty acids have huge health benefits. MCTs are found naturally in coconut oil. You can also purchase manufactured MCT oil. MCTs are metabolized differently than long chain triglycerides, which are found in most other foods. At this point you may be skeptical or thinking, “WTF, why should I care,” so I’ll just break it down…

  1. Because of the shorter chain length, MCTs break down more quickly, making them a fast energy source and less likely to be stored as fat. SCORE!
  2. Natural sources include: coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy (10-12%)
  3. Manufactured MCT oil is highly concentrated from coconut and palm kernel oil. Manufactured MCT oil usually contains little to no lauric acid, which is found in coconut oil. Now, the benefits of lauric acid are up for debate as to whether it reduces or enhances the quality of MCT oil. Just be careful if buying manufactured MCT oil to buy one that says, “100% PURE MCT Oil” and doesn’t label itself as “Liquid Coconut Oil,” which can be misleading. Read your ingredients list, people!
  4. Weight Loss: 2002 Journal of Nutrition study and several follow ups found that MCTs effect on weight loss is pretty small. It does assist in increasing saiety and raising the metabolic rate. You’re only going to lose weight, or not gain additional weight if you’re not taking in additional calories, or eating more calories than your body needs. So work it out. Like a boss.

So how to choose?

Well, I started out cooking with coconut oil to add some healthy fats into my diet. Then, I jumped on the bulletproof coffee wagon—but I did not want to go full on-crazy with BUTTER, yes butter. A heart-attack in my coffee. Wait, don’t know about that one? Essentially, people claim that adding 2 tablespoons (yes, you read that correctly) of butter and a tablespoon of MCT oil to coffee in the morning is great substitute for breakfast that helps with your health regimen and mental agility. Come again? Look, I just need to get some extra fats and definitely more proteins in my day. But with butter, come on guys! I could not last a warm-up with just drinking that and I’d feel that grease sliming out of my pores. Gross.

So back to the choice.

MCT MANUFACTURED OILS

  1. If you’re looking for the highest concentration of MCT oil, this is the way to go. Cooking will provide you with a lower dosage when all is said and done.
  2. You can take it straight from the spoon, put it into whatever you want. I put mine into coffee, smoothies, and now I cook with it more than coconut oil, especially if a recipe calls for melted coconut oil.
  3. It’s tasteless.
  4. Same benefits as coconut oil, except lacking lauric acid, although jury is still out on all of those benefits.
  5. Can withstand high heat cooking.
  6. Helps improve nutrient absorption.
  7. Helps suppress fat deposition through enhanced thermogenesis. Huh? Okay, so that’s like your metabolism goes into hyperdrive so you store less fat. It’s a good thing. Especially when you work out a lot but still like to indulge. (wink wink….)

 

COCONUT OIL

  1. 90% Saturated Fat (vs. 64% found in butter vs. 70% found in olive oil; however standard seed, soy and vegetable oils are extremely high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, they also drastically increase LDL cholesterol and heart disease).
  2. BUT…1/2 of coconut oil’s saturated fat is the MCT, which is rapidly absorbed and less likely to be stored as fat.
  3. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is known to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  4. Coconut oil can help aid digestion in destroying bad bacteria and candida.
  5.  Oh and of course, the MANY other ways to use it all around the house.

 

For more information:

Cooking With Coconut Oil – NY Magazine July 2016

The Science Behind Health Benefits of Coconut Oil – EcoWatch May 2016

Dr. Axe – Science if Medicine

Byrdie Beauty – Reasons to Use Coconut Oil Everyday July 2016

Making Granola HealthyIER

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I’ve been in a long-term relationship with granola. Is it a healthy relationship? Yes and no. Until a few weeks ago, I would purchase the GIGANTIC “club size” bag of Wegman’s organic oats and honey granola every week. So, granola seems like a healthy snack and it is a great alternative to potato chips or cookies, however when you take a look at the sugar content of store bought granola, it doesn’t look as nutritious as you might assume. Once I inspected my beloved store bought granola, I vowed to find an alternative to my “healthy” alternative snack.

What does any health-conscious gal with a granola addiction do in this situation? Well, this one first checks out every other store brand just to make sure there isn’t already something ready-made just to save some time and energy. Spoiler alert — there isn’t. Next up, the great Pinterest recipe hunt. Now, I absolutely do NOT fancy myself handy in the kitchen. I can count the number of recipes in my arsenal on my fingers. So a granola recipe has to be quick, easy, healthy, and tasty, especially since I run through it like CRAZY.

After a long trip down the Pinterest rabbit hole, I ended up at sallysbakingaddiction.com. The Vanilla Almond Granola consists of 8 ingredients, 2 of which I had to purchase since everything else was already in my cabinet. I’ll need to restock my oat and slivered almond supply, but adding those up to about $5 every 3 batches, this comes in way under the $8 per bag I was paying each week for my store bought granola. And, BONUS…it’s tastier and healthier!  I need to make 2 batches to come up with the same amount as my usual size (which can bake at the same time), but to put it all together takes just a few minutes.

It was a tough breakup, but I’ve moved onto a less toxic granola relationship. Wegman’s granola, I’ll remember you fondly.

 

 

I’m Currently OBSESSED With…

Thursday, May 19, 2016

An app. Yes, it’s true. I can’t put my phone down. I’m now one of, “those people.” I’m staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. (okay so I am an insomniac, but still) with Li.st. I’m ignoring all my favorite TV shows. In fact, I just spent the last 2 hours on this app running down my phone battery. I had gone grocery shopping after my workout and instead of eating a full meal and showering, what did I do? Oh, yes, I sat down, read, and contributed to this app.

So why is this app so magical and spellbinding? So many reasons. Comedy, you like comedy, right? Positive social media (for once). Hey, that’s novel! Creativity and collaboration. You just have to see for yourself. Or, you just have to Li.st for yourself. See what I did there? There’s more of that all over Li.st. You just have to Listroduce yourself.

I think I found out about the Li.st app (@thelistapp) somewhere on a blog. Not sure exactly. It’s been an obsession ever since.

So, I believe this app came out in October 2015. It is a social network app created by actor, comedian, author, & screenwriter, BJ Novak. Anyway, when I started using it, there were mostly just average folks making lists about random things. The key— everything is pretty much always a list with a comedic twist (rhyme not intentional). Of course, there are some celebs on there too. The majority of the users are regular folks and let me tell you, the best thing about this community…the positivity. It’s so supportive! Wait, did I already mention that? 

Recently, news outlets have been subscribing and making their own lists so it’s started to take off more but it’s still mostly a (consumer)user-based platform. And it is addictive.

I have posted lists about “Keeping Yourself Awake During Long Solo Car Drives,” “People I’m Told I Look Like,” “Last 4 Photos On My Phone (captioned),” “How I Know My Cat is the Boss of Me,” and many more. I’m about to pen one about the box my mom gave me of crap she found in the garage taken from my childhood bedroom in Memphis. That promises to be fun. Some of my recent favorite lists by other users include “Weird Things I was Afraid of As A Child,” “Top 8 Pics of Me Squatting on Stuff,” “Selfies with Sleeping Strangers,” “Emojis That Might Be Too Sexy To Use,” “Times My Cat Had Zero Chill,” and I could go on and on and on. This thing is a deep dive app. For realsies.

If you like comedy, this is for you. And if you don’t, what’s up with you? But, for real, this is a VERY clever way to use humor and lists in a positive social media environment.

Get on it now! I think I would recommend this more than anything else I’ve seen lately. No joke.

 

 

Going Beyond the Closet Purge

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I recently read this article about the 50/50 Closet Purge and this article on a Therapeutic Approach to Closet Cleaning on WhoWhatWear.com and was inspired to start cleaning out my closet. However, I didn’t stop with my closet and will get to that later. The second article inspired me to read up on the Marie Kondo method of simplifying your life. For some of her secrets, Refinery29 provides a great start in this article.

Starting with my closet, I first set aside anything I haven’t worn in a year. My closet is so full that it’s difficult to find anything so this was a great exercise for me. Next, I pulled out anything that didn’t fit. I have a ton of clothes are way too big. This includes several large plastic bins in my basement with clothes in them that I haven’t worn in 5+ years. In a nutshell, I gained weight because of medication and lost the weight once I went off that medication and began working out so I have no idea why I’m still holding onto these clothes. I mean it’s been 5 or 6 years. I can’t even remember now. I think it’s fear that has me keeping these clothes. Finally, I decided to free myself of the clothes that have been weighing me down both physically and emotionally. There were also a lot of clothes in my closet that are too big, including some items that I’ve even worn this past year. I’ll admit I probably looked ridiculous—like I was playing dress up or something.  Those were cast out too. My third step? I have a habit of buying multiples or things at discount stores that I think I need but never use. For example, I do not need 5 pairs of yoga pants. I never do yoga. I wear workout capri tights or leggings to the gym.  Also, I don’t need multiple boyfriend tees in the same color. Oh, and I have NO CLUE as to what possessed me to buy a leopard print long-sleeve body con sweater dress two years ago. Tags are still on it. I mean, it definitely fits and it’s by French Connection so it’s not terrible but I look like I’m on Real Housewives of New Jersey. Toss! Finally, I got rid of a whole bunch of old free t-shirts dating back to my college years.

When I finished cleaning out my clothes, I had about 8-10 jackets and winter coats; 15 pairs of pants; 10 pairs of sweats/yoga pants; 25+sweaters; around 30 dressy tops; 15+ tees; 10 dresses; and 15 pairs of shoes (including my very first pair of heels).  Not bad. My closet still looks full so I could’ve probably gotten away with tossing more.

Once that was complete, I decided to move onto other storage spaces and rooms in the house. I started in the kitchen and saw that we have way too many wine glasses and coffee mugs. Since I refinished/built a bar out of a credenza from a professor’s office, everyone gives us glassware. Plus, we have so many free glasses from wine tastings. Anything free/emblazoned with a logo ended up in the pile. We also haven’t used our crock pot and an old coffee maker in years. Note: we already have three coffee makers on the counter so a fourth is definitely expendable. Those were set aside to donate. I also packaged up several decorative items that were stored in cabinets such as vases, and knick knacks that we’ve never displayed. After the kitchen, I grabbed all the linens that we don’t use including the two sets of table linens that no longer match our color palette; throw pillows that don’t match our colors; an old rug; extra throw blankets; Matt’s old comforter; and some snuggies. I also found a shelf full of old paperbacks that I’ll never read again—gone! Next up…a plastic raft with the paddles in its original box that hasn’t seen water in at least 7 years.

So what did I do with all of these excessive items? My favorite place to donate, and I tend to donate at least a few bags per year, is Project GreenDrop. I choose my donations to go to the Military Order of the Purple Heart since my dad is a Vietnam War veteran and received a Purple Heart. Project GreenDrop is so easy! You schedule your pickup online, let them know the size of your donation, and put it outside before 7AM the day of the pickup. The donation I described above was considered large (11-24 bags/boxes). I ended up with 15 bags and boxes. Matt may add some in tonight since our pickup is tomorrow.

Now that I’ve completed this first big purge, I feel good. I know there’s more that I can toss, especially in my closet. Marie Kondo’s method is all about keeping things that “spark joy.” I am still hanging onto items I haven’t worn in long time and that I’m not sure I would even consider as being “my style” anymore. So, I still have some joyless items.

Also, if you read the Refinery29.com article on simplifying your life, the note about giving up freebies hit close to home and that is something I need to work up to. As a product junkie, I get so many samples from Sephora and Nordstrom and other beauty subscriptions, but I NEVER use them. I just tossed a garbage bag of old makeup and I think I need to toss all the samples too. If you’ve read my posts before, you know I’m loyal to several products and have had failures upon trying to find adequate substitutions. Drawers are full of these substitutions and they, like the clothes in storage, are just weighing me down. As an aside, the two things I couldn’t do according to that article…not have a pet, sorry love my cat WAY too much, and stop watching TV. I already do most of the other suggestions or am in the process of trying them out anyway.

In all, I’m feeling great as I’m getting rid of this “stuff.” It has also helped reshape my mindset when I’m shopping. Today, I was at Target just to purchase Matt’s specific coffee pods that I can only buy there, and had several additional items in my hand that I absolutely did not need. I had a few tank tops, a pair of leggings, some nail polish, some blank notecards, etc. Then, I stopped myself and said, “I really don’t need any of this.” So, I put it all back on the shelf and just bought the coffee. And you know what?  It felt awesome.

 

How the 50/50 Closet Purge Revolutionized My Style

A Therapeutic Approach To Closet Cleaning That Actually Works

10 Things You Need To Ditch From Your Life Now

The Cult of Marie Kondo

purge

 

 

Found! Easy, Healthy, Quick Snack/Breakfast/Protein Bar Substitute

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

So this one comes from my best friend’s niece, Emma, and I am completely in LOVE with this recipe. I’ve always had issues with finding time to eat enough calories before working out and recently I’m finding myself really trying to avoid even my favorite nutrition bars (KIND bars) despite the fact that they only contain a few ingredients. I feel like I’m preaching more and more about eating less processed food and eating clean, but hey, you gotta do you. Apparently this is me and it’s working for me.

When I received this recipe, I was game to try it immediately and have since been making these muffins on a weekly basis. I’ve also experimented with some modifications, which I’ll share. There are several great things about these muffins — they take about 25 minutes to make from start to finish, you can keep them in the fridge and use them as a snack or meal supplement/replacement on the go, they’re really healthy (gluten free), and super yummy.

So what exactly is in these magic muffins? The original recipe and the one I make most often includes bananas, eggs, almond butter, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and baking powder. That’s it. What’s not in these muffins? No sugar, no flour, no oil, no butter, no milk. Am I serious? Yes. Crazy, right? And my husband describes them as tasting like bread pudding. I’d have to agree that’s a pretty solid description. Warning—they are dense.

Ingredients:

3 large, ripe bananas

4 large eggs

2/3 cup almond butter

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of raisins (I use a little more than 1/2 cup since we like raisins a lot)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine bananas, eggs, almond butter, baking powder, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in blender and puree until smooth. Easy enough, right?

Add raisins to blender mixture and stir with a spoon or spatula until combined.

Pour into greased muffin tin (I use silicone pans and paper muffin cups since these are dense and can get moist in the fridge when you store them).

Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned (depends on your oven and pan though, I go about 23 minutes and test with a toothpick until it comes out clean).

InstasizeImage

I have tried some modifications, including using peanut butter instead of almond butter and chocolate chips with raisins. The chocolate chips make them less healthy of course, and we ended up preferring the raisins solo. In our taste testing, we decided peanut butter goes best with chocolate chips and the almond butter best with the raisins. Of the two combos, we prefer the almond butter and raisins.

This recipe will yield a dozen. For two, it lasts us about a week. We reheat for :20-:25 in the microwave. I haven’t tried them cold, but I imagine they’d be good.

If you’re looking for something tasty, easy to make, and quick to eat that packs good punch of protein, I completely recommend trying this recipe. I absolutely LOVE it!

Quest for the BEST in Beauty-Luxe VS. Cheapies

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I confess…I have a problem. I am addicted to beauty products. If a beauty editor swears by it, I’m game to try it and truly wish that it will result in perfect skin, whether it’s a high or low end foundation, facial cleanser, moisturizer, serum, or concealer. My level of trust in a beauty editor, or a celebrity’s beauty routine, is not only completely unfounded given the success to fail ratio, but also very expensive.

Whenever a list claiming the best drugstore buys is published, I’m so excited to find out if they’ll be able to substitute my Sephora and department store favorites. I usually spend as much in this new trial as I would on my trusted current product.

There are few (granted, just a couple at this point) cult favorites that I refuse to believe can be replicated, despite claims to the contrary. And I have tested these imitations. Case in point, Physicians Formula CC has been compared to YSL’s Touche Éclat. Not even close. Also, while I’m a fan of Revlon lipstick, nothing compares to the staying power, color range , and pigmentation of NARS. Sorry, folks.

As for foundation, I’ve tried L’Oréal True Match Lumi (a good substitute for YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat) and it was a big disappointment. I also tried Maybelline Fit Me Dewy+Smooth as a substitute for my Chanel Vitalumiére Aqua. I know I had previously written that I would keep it in rotation, but it’s staying power isn’t very good and the color tends change throughout the day.

But this brings me to the point of this post—concealer. I’m always looking for the best concealers. When I read the latest list of Best Drugstore Concealers, I could not stop myself.   Recently, I found Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer. Yes, it’s been compared to NARS Radiant Concealer and I do like it, however it tends to crease. I’ve tried Physicians Formula CC Concealer twice now and the colors just look clownish on my pale skin. I also tried Revlon’s PhotoReady Concealer and about a year ago, when CoverGirl TrueBlend Fix Stick made it onto a list, I tried that one too. No true success stories here. They both tend to sit on top of the skin, never truly blending properly.

Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and realize that certain products cannot be substituted. I love my RMS Lip2Cheek Tint and RMS Living Luminizer. So, I’ve been eyeing up the RMS “Un” Coverup for more than a year especially since makeup artists rave about it. I finally gave in and it was everything I’d hoped it would be. So easy to blend, like second skin. This weekend, I’ve dropped foundation and am just rocking the RMS “Un” Coverup. For under the eyes, I’m using YSL Touche Éclat.

I have to also admit that my failures in the facial cleansing/moisturizing department are legendary. I was committed to Hope in Jar Dry Skin by Philosophy for years and tried over and over to go the drugstore route. Every single time, I would regret the purchase. Neutrogena, Almay, Simple, Cetaphil, etc. My sensitive skin would reject every new product. Now that Philosophy has discontinued Hope in Jar Dry Skin, I’ve tried the new version and a few other Philosophy moisturizers, and haven’t had any luck. I recently started using First Aid Beauty for sensitive skin and love it. I also recently tried out several beauty blog recommended products for skin problems, you know for those times of the month when not only are we subjected to pain, cry fests, water bloat, and more, we’re also blessed with hormonal acne. And while some of us never had to deal with this as teenagers, it just feels like some sort of cosmic joke that decades later, this is now a monthly issue. So, my dry/sensitive skin has been stuck in a cycle with tiny breakouts that I treat, then get extremely dry, flaky skin. What’s a girl to do? I needed a more sensitive, gentle product.  First, I tried Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Targeted Spot Treatment. Didn’t seem to do too much. Next, based on another recommendation, I tried the Juice Beauty Organic Blemish Cleansing Serum. This has not irritated my sensitive skin and so far seems to have been making some progress. Bravo!

 

 

 

Why I LIVE in Leggings (despite the stares)

Friday, March 18, 2016

I know leggings can be a controversial fashion choice unless you’re Gigi Hadid or Kendall Jenner. Since I committed to working out daily 5 or 6 years ago, I have been in love with my athlesieure gear.

Anyway, since then the only time I dressed up was for work, and in my position that meant jeans, a nice top/blazer & flats and sometimes a dress or skirt when on camera. Now that I quit my job of nearly 14 years at the end of October, I am living in my workout gear/athlesieure wear. Calf length, full length, traditional non-athletic leggings, leather leggings, you name it!

I usually pair them with a long tank and t-shirt or dressy-ish sweatshirt and blazer or nice jacket. A cute solid v-neck t-shirt and a bright J Crew cardigan with ballerina flats also looks nice. To be perfectly honest, I’m most often rocking my favorite kicks—the Nike Roshe Flyknits (gray/black/white), a green army jacket, t-shirt and long cardi.

I went to a funeral this past weekend and getting back into “dressy” clothes was a bit of a chore. Full disclosure, I wore black leather leggings, a black Who What Wear for Target crochet lace top, and a black J Crew collarless tuxedo style blazer with Nine West pumps to the visitation and snazzed it up to a J Crew LBD for the funeral service. Alas, I am definitely itching to be back in the job force so I will happily retire leggings until the weekends. I did just want to point out that there are leggings out there for every shape and size and they can work for everyone. I promise. You can style them so many ways. Just be careful about the fabric you select. Some are extremely sheer, as I’ve found with the Target Exhilaration brand. They’re practically sheer once you pop those suckers on your legs. Best left for sleeping in and not leaving the house. I stick to mostly athletic leggings or a thicker ponte fabric. I scored a great deal at The Loft awhile back and the thicker fabric is great. They’re also a bit dressier.

Again, I know many people shy away from this look, but they can work for you too. The comfort level is WORTH it!

Some of my favorites include New Balance Premium Performance Tight, The Loft Seamed Ponte Pants, J Crew Pixie Pant, Old Navy Compression Work-out Pants.

 

Kitchen Multi-taskers and Food Savers

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I’ve mentioned my fondness for baking soda and hydrogen peroxide already. I’ve recently discovered a couple more miracle kitchen products and hacks that can help prolong produce shelf life, serve as substitute dryer sheets in a pinch, help with potential cold symptoms, digestive issues, as well as beauty tools.

#1 Apple Cider Vinegar

If you haven’t yet embraced this wonder tonic, you do NOT know what you’re missing! I have fully embraced it and consider myself smitten. First, apple cider vinegar has been known to jumpstart weight loss, especially for women who gain weight in the abdominal region. This super liquid promotes better digestion, balances PH levels, and kills viruses and unwanted bacteria. It also aids in the body’s absorption of key nutrients in your food. I’ve been drinking 2 tsp. daily with 8oz of water and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I’ve been drinking it cold, but I understand a heated cup (with honey or lemon) is quite tasty too.

Additionally, apple cider vinegar is known to reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar, calm food poisoning/constipation/bloating, etc.

Other uses include using apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a mouthwash substitute. It can also help with stains and whiten teeth. At the FIRST sign of a dreaded cold/flu, you know those critical hours when you feel the illness creeping in, gargling or sipping ACV can help create an environment in your throat that discourages cold germs and viruses.

There are also multiple beauty uses for apple cider vinegar. It can be used as a facial toner, combined with water in a spray bottle to combat dandruff, to brighten color and bring out highlights through a simple shower rinse, used as sunburn relief by mixing ACV with water, employed in combatting dark nail polish stains after removing polish, & as a potent blemish spot treatment.

Full disclosure— I have been drinking multiple glasses of ACV w/water and cinnamon each day, used it on nails post-polish removal, gargled when feeling under-the-weather, dabbed it on blemishes before bed to reduce redness, and used on sunburn. I’m sold on the results.

For more tips on apple cider vinegar, check out the articles below:

12 Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Braggs-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-Nigeria

#2 Aluminum Foil

This is a brand-spanking-new multi-tasking discovery for me. First, I was super excited to find that you can wrap the top of your bananas in foil in order to keep them green longer. Greener bananas are known to provide more nutrients, plus I just hate my bananas bruised and spotty. I bought these bananas Tuesday and still find them green at the top today, Saturday.

IMG_4807

Another use for aluminum foil is a substitute dryer sheet to combat static. Just make sure it’s balled up so that all sharp edges are tucked away so they don’t snag your garments. I’ve been tucking the aluminum ball in a lingerie bag for extra protection.

#3 Keeping Produce Fresh in the Fridge

I’ve been using this tip, from my friend Cheraine Stanford, for more than a year. It’s been a lifesaver! First, if you buy fruit such as strawberries and blueberries, you know there is a very short shelf life for these fruits. However, you can prolong the shelf life and help motivate yourself to eat the fruit in an easy way. Simply, wet a paper towel and place it at the bottom of your tupperware container, next cut or wash your fruit before adding it to the container. This works especially well with produce like strawberries since they’ll be easily accessible and ready to eat whenever you need them without any prep work involved. The paper towel also helps keep the fruit fresh a little longer in the fridge. I’ve definitely found this to work in my favor. I’m not sure if this is something everyone already knew and I just never picked it up, but I’ll be forever grateful to Cheraine for sharing this awesome tip with me.

These are a couple of my favorite tips and tricks that I’ve found to work especially well. If you know of any you’d like to share, shoot me an email at whitneychirdon@me.com.

 

The Dreaded Driver’s License Photo—

Monday, February 22, 2016

As my birthday closes in this week, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to potentially get the chance to redeem myself with a better driver’s license pic (fingers crossed). We all know this is a touch and go situation fraught with all the odds stacked against us…bad lighting, flat backgrounds, long waiting times causing anger which can be reflected in your photo, few opportunities for retakes, etc. So what can we do to attempt to look better in a situation unsuited for glamour shots?

First, we have selfies on our side. No, we all can’t crush the selfie game like Kim Kardashian, or any Kardashian for that matter, but we can learn some of their tools of the trade. Most of us have more than likely found ways to tilt our heads just so for a more flattering angle, even in less than ideal circumstances. If you haven’t, here are a few articles for some tips so you can avoid looking like you’re caught in a mug shot.

Celebrity Secrets for Better Selfies

How to Take a Good Selfie

First, I’ll talk about the mistakes I made in my license from 2011. I looked directly into the camera, straight-on, and it was way too tight a shot for that. I also wore my hair down and pulled in front of both shoulders which hid my neck and shoulders and overwhelmed me in the photo.

For today’s shot, I did some advanced prep, practice and research. I looked back at some old selfies in my iPhone photo library and found that if I angled my chin down and head 3/4 away from the camera while giving a relaxed smile with not too much teeth, I would get a more flattering shot. I also decided to put my hair up so that my long locks wouldn’t overwhelm my small frame again.

Here’s a great article to get you started if your license is up for renewal. I found the tips on finding your angle, skipping shimmer, and going light on makeup helpful. I did not embrace my natural hair texture (curly/wavy). I also did not use bronzer or anything like that. I did make sure to enhance my eye color (I mean your license does list your eye color right there anyway) so I used some subtle purple liner for my green peepers. Other than that, I went pretty natural as far as makeup.

How to Take a Good Driver’s License Photo

I’m pretty happy with the final results and I basically spent 10 minutes looking at a few articles online, finding a shirt, deciding on how to wear my hair, then taking a selfie to see how it would look in a pic on a license. The biggest pain for me was that fact that I really didn’t want to wash my hair today. Sigh.

Here are the products I used, the selfie I took before leaving the house, and those embarrassing before ID pics and the new one too. I mean, in my passport photos I look super unhappy in one, and kinda greasy in the other. Ewwww.

I will add some compliments to the local DMV. I waited behind one other person and they even let me take a second photo since I was unhappy with the first one. And hey, this is GREAT practice for that GA license when I get that job sometime soon. Here’s hoping!

 

Notes on Diet/Nutrition: 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Recently, a good friend of mine asked for advice on dieting and nutrition. I’ve never dieted, but I do workout and try to eat healthy. I’ve written about my philosophy on maintaining a healthy workout before and it applies to eating as well. I know many people believe that dieting/losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I think you’ll be most successful with a combination that adds more exercise to it, but that’s just me.

Back to how I advised my friend…so I think I could equate my own nutrition philosophy to this 80% – 20% ratio only swap it up for 80% healthy and 20% indulgence. Exercise would factor in as a separate part of the equation. I’ve always said that I’m never successful if I try to make some sort of resolution to deprive myself of things I enjoy. That would make it pretty difficult, for me at least, to stick to a disciplined regimen of a completely clean diet. Sure, in an ideal world I’d have a personal chef making me amazingly diverse meals that were 100% healthy and whole, unprocessed, and organic. But, that’s not my life.

That said, I also firmly believe that what you get out of this is relative to your effort…meaning, I sleep better, workout better, have more energy throughout the day, feel less moody, etc. when I maintain my routine, healthy diet. I want to be clear, however, that when I say, “diet,” it’s not a diet to lose weight. This is simply the kind of food I eat.

So what did I tell my friend? When I shop, I stick to the produce, meat, and refrigerated sections of the store. I hit the shelved aisles with processed foods for just a couple of items. In fact, I’ll even include a photo of what I bought this morning below this post. Here are some examples of what I’ll be making/eating this week:

  • Greek yogurt w/fruit and organic granola
  • Several bananas for snacks
  • Raw almonds or cashews
  • Chicken broiled or grilled made in batches then saved in fridge to make pita pockets w/spinach and italian dressing
  • Quiche with spinach, eggs, turkey sausage, swiss cheese, onions, celery, peppers
  • Steel cut oats w/almond milk, raisins/fruit/cinnamon
  • Ezekiel bread and organic peanut butter
  • Green tea
  • Coffee
  • Leftover chicken & bell pepper stir-fry w/brown rice
  • KIND Fruit & Nut Bars (coconut and almond)
  • Lots of water

Again, this just a start. I’m sure we’ll go out to dinner this week or order a pizza. There will be cocktails or champagne this weekend. Hey, it’s Valentines’ weekend — not to mention the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead — lots to celebrate. The thing is that since I spend most of the week eating pretty healthy and working out, I won’t feel guilty about it.

image1

 

Helpful Prep for Phone Interviews—

Monday, January 25, 2016

This morning I had a phone interview for a job I know I’d absolutely LOVE. One I’d probably be able to walk through the door on day one and get right down to work. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll move onto phase 2 of the interview process, despite things sounding promising, but I do want to share what I did to help me feel confident during the phone interview process.

1) About a week after I applied to the position, I sent a message via LinkedIn InMail to the hiring manager and learned about the projects she oversees. My sister, an HR recruiter in Manhattan, said I should always be connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn after I apply for jobs. It just so happened I received an email requesting a phone interview for sometime in the following 2-3 days. BTW, contacting the person who posted the job is really a great strategy. I think it really helps you get noticed, at least according to my sister and she works for Refinery29 in HR in NYC. I LOVE R29 and they have a sizable staff and just keep growing.  

Anyway, after working in the same place for almost 14 years and knowing my colleagues VERY well, I haven’t really been on the interviewee side of this process in a looong time. I was a wreck on Friday after I scheduled the interview.

2) As always, my BFF came through with the first helpful article from FastCompany.com. This focuses on how to prep for a phone interview when so much of our personality is conveyed in person. Let me point out now that I am definitely a “people person.” I know how to work a room, put nervous people who’ve never been on camera at ease, and walk up to someone I’ve never met and strike up a conversation. These skills do not translate over the phone. The phone interview requires special care, such as speaking slower, pausing to allow the interviewer time to respond, and nailing the greeting.

3) Next, I consulted some of my closest friends and former colleagues on their thoughts about what work to share and for some of their tips. They’re all producers so their input was invaluable. Patty noted, “You’ve got the right skills and experience for that job so go into the interview with confidence in that knowledge.  Be enthusiastic, but calm.  What I’ve read (in my son’s Men’s Health magazine, of all places, but written by an employment expert) is that what trips women up on job interviews, especially when other women are part of the hiring committee, is being too perky (too smiley, nervous laughter, etc.) and deferential.  You want to convey warm confidence.  Armed with that information, you’re gonna knock their socks off!” Catie provided a list of the top qualifications I needed to make sure to highlight. Together, Catie, Patty, Lindsey and Kevin made suggestions about which clips I should share.

4) The real work began this weekend. I watched as many episodes of the series I believe I’d be working on if I got the job (fingers crossed). I took extensive notes on how two of my past projects gave me the background to produce for this series.

I also read MANY articles about phone interview etiquette:

Job Interview Q&A 101

Interview Tips to Land a 2nd Interview

Tips to Ace Your Next Phone Interview

5) Next, and most importantly, I made an extensive notes sheet to help me as a crutch, should I need it, during the interview. This really helped calm my nerves and boost my confidence to see all of my qualifications match perfectly with the position.

  • I copied the job description and highlighted the qualifications and job duties where I would specifically excel.
  • I thought about why I would make an excellent fit at the company. I know their mission is a commitment strengthening communities by sharing local and national stories, and that hit home with me. I jotted notes about how my experience with specific projects apply to this position. I produced many award winning image spots to reinforce WPSU’s value to our audience. I created the concept for these spots, scripted them, cast interview subjects, directed shoots, and post-production. I also worked for the past 6-7 years as the lead producer on a series called “Our Town” sharing stories from residents in towns throughout WPSU’s 29 county viewing area. These were stories about that highlighted the great people, town pride, and local history—very similar to the series I’d hope to work on if I got this new position.
  • I prepared for general interview questions. First up—my greatest weakness. Next, I prepared for the question about my greatest strength.
  • I prepared an answer for the common interview question about describing a situation where I had to overcome a challenge, and made sure it pertained to the job description of the position to which I was applying.
  • I also prepared an answer about describing a success story, and made sure it also pertained to the job description of the position to which I was applying.
  • Despite having my résumé in front of me, I bullet-pointed the primary responsibilities in my last job.
  • Finally, I made sure I was prepared to answer, but not ask, about salary questions. I gave a ballpark but said that I was flexible and looking for a competitive market rate.
  • I also had my web browser open to pages on LinkedIn with the job posting, the website of the company to which I was applying, as well as my personal site and YouTube channel.

Here is where I point out that most of these questions were not asked. It was a less formal discussion. We talked about why I left my last position, how my background and experience make me a good fit for this opportunity, we shared a common admiration for the video series produced at their company,and then I got asked about salary. I felt the recruiter was so friendly and if her demeanor is any indication about the employees of the company, it increases my excitement about the potential of the position.

6) I followed up with a thank you email to the recruiter I spoke to this morning and reinforced my enthusiasm about the opportunity as well as the qualifications that would make me a good fit for the position.

From here, I REALLY hope to go on with the next phase in the hiring process. We’ll see what happens. At the very least, I’ve successfully gone through a phone interview and come out the other side feeling good about the experience.

 

Confession…

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I have super sensitive, dry skin. As much as I’d love to try new skin care and makeup, and I do, I usually end up with epic fails. This leaves me with coming back to brands that I trust, and unfortunately they tend to be of the designer variety. Hey, I have to maintain my Sephora VIB status. But, I’m also determined to find some drugstore alternatives whenever I can.

Recently, I did start to branch out, and I have had some limited success. One product that I swear by, and have used for years, is Organic Aura Cacia Rosehip Oil with Vitamin E. I also use Nourish Organic Argan Face Serum with Apricot + Rosehip. Both of these were found right at my grocery store—Wegman’s. They’re great for dry, sensitive skin and even help add shine and softness to my locks.

I also wanted to find an alternative to my expensive Philosophy makeup remover and Garnier just released Micellar Cleansing Water and every beauty blog/magazine seems to be talking about it. I confess that I often make the cardinal sin of (gasp) rolling into bed with makeup still on, which is always frowned upon by skincare professionals, models, beauty editors, etc. Micellar Cleansing Water is the answer to a quick wash and to an effective, inexpensive makeup remover. I am loving this stuff. Found at the grocery store, Target, etc.

Finally, I wanted to try out some makeup that several blogs have deemed “Best Drugstore Beauty Buys.” First up, L’Oréal True Match Cushion Compact. Cushion compacts have recently been all the rage and when this one has had great reviews, I was game to give it a try. At first, I liked the coverage, which could range from light to medium, depending on how much you use/how hard you press on the compact. It doesn’t seem to have much lasting power and it was a little drying. The next foundation I tried was Maybelline’s Fit Me Dewy + Smooth. I think it’s pretty good one. I’ll always prefer my Chanel Vitalumiére Aqua. I’ll still keep Fit Me in rotation. I must add that I set it with my favorite Chanel powder, Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer.

Two products that have permanently made it into my makeup bag include Maybelline’s concealer, which has often been compared to the NARS Radiant concealer and Maybelline’s The Falsies Pushup Drama Waterproof Mascara. I tended to go for Diorshow in the past, but The Falsies waterproof has been the best waterproof mascara I’ve ever used! You really MUST use makeup remover to get this stuff off. It also provides major lashes—the name says it all.

So, while there are some products that I keep coming back to no matter how hard I try to find a less expensive version—moisturizer, facial cleanser, makeup primer, face powder, hair care products, etc. I enjoy finding a couple that work and are able to save me a few bucks so I can spend that money on, what else, more products!

 

 

Cooking with Coconut Oil-

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I’ve heard about cooking with coconut oil for quite some time now and know that it’s a healthy fat, but I never really made that leap to trying it. I even bought a jar of Spectrum Organic Refined Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil about 7 months ago, put it in a cabinet and completely forgot about it, or maybe just got a wee bit lazy about trying anything new with my cooking. I have a limited repertoire of recipes and while they tend to get a bit stale, they have been pretty perfected after years of working out the kinks.

Anyway, last week I decided to try out this coconut oil to add the healthy fat to my scrambled eggs. Not to boast too much, but I make some mean scrambled eggs. When I used coconut oil, however, I raised my own bar and got really excited about continuing to see where else I could utilize my newfound “miracle” ingredient. My eggs were fluffier, lighter, and not one single bit stuck to my 7-year old pan. If you’ve read my post on cleaning baking sheets, can you sense that I don’t invest much in cookware? 

I’ve since used coconut oil in chicken stir fry, sautéing veggies, and more and it has all been amazing. I’m told baking is a little tricky, so I’ll keep you posted. For now, I’m fully sold on this as my new cooking basic.

coconut oil

 

A Couple of Substitute Workout Routines…

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sometimes you just can’t get to the gym as much as you’d like to. Maybe your cat is snuggled up on your lap on a super rainy or snowy day. Maybe you have appointments that conflict with every class time. Whatever the reason, you may have to gather up the motivation to do it on your own. If you’re like me, this is pretty difficult, which is why I belong to a gym. Unless it involves running outside, I have a hard time doing a DVD workout or anything like that.

When it gets cold outside and I can’t run (treadmill is out of the question), I’ve worked out a couple of circuit workouts that I can do at home. Most involve body weight exercises and mild cardio.

Workout #1

Complete each circuit 1x. I would probably use at least 35-50lb. weights for dumbbell rows and 20lb. dumbbells for curls. I would recommend starting off with 20lb. for rows and 10-12lb. for curls to see where you are.

  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Jump Squats
  • 40 Skaters
  • 30 Reverse Crunches
  • 30 Dumbbell Rows
  • 30 Side Lunges with a hop
  • 40 Alligators (20 each side)

Rest

  • 30 Push-ups
  • 30 Dumbbell curls
  • 40 Mountain Jacks
  • 40 Jump Splits (every leg/jump counts)
  • 40 Sumo Jacks
  • 40 Prone Shoulder Taps (20 each shoulder)

Rest

  • 50 Opposite Hand-Foot Touch Sit-Ups
  • 50 12″ Box Jumps (substitute with step jump)
  • 50 Walking Lunges (every step counts)
  • 50 Crunches
  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • 25 Tri-cep Dips (use a chair or low table/stair)

 

Workout #2

Sometimes I do this after a 3 mile run outside or I do a shorter workout from Wahoo’s 7 Minute Workout app. This one requires a stability ball, exercise band, and some free weights. I may add in a 3rd :30 round if I’m feeling it.

Circuit 1 (1st time around 1:00/2nd time :45)

  • Crunches on ball
  • Overhead band press 
  • Bicep curls
  • Burpees
  • Dumbbell rows

Circuit 2 (1st time around 1:00/2nd time :45)

  • Bicycle crunch
  • Reverse lunge 15lb weight
  • Push ups with t rotation
  • Roll out on ball or plank
  • Mountain climbers

Circuit 3 (1st time around 1:00/2nd time :45)

  • Squat pulse or squat jump
  • Pull ups (if you have a bar or playground) or dips (using a chair, low table)
  • Glute Ham Raises (Hip raise with stability ball)
  • Jumping jacks
  • Double crunch or reverse crunch

These are just a couple of routines I’ll do on my own. My favorites to do in front of the TV are double crunches, push-ups, oblique crunches, and opposite hand foot touch crunches. I feel that push-ups are the ultimate exercise if you do them correctly. If you engage your core, your glutes, hamstrings, arms, chest, back, you’re really getting a great exercise for so many muscles with one move. Plus, once you can do military-style push-ups without taking a knee, it feels pretty awesome when you’re next to the guys and able to keep up with them!

If I ever feel crunched for time, I usually just do a workout app on my iPhone. My favorite is 7 Minute Workout (Wahoo). It’s tough, thorough and quick. It’s a great one for a post-run routine.

Found—Quick & Healthy Breakfast!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

So I am definitely a creature of habit. When it comes to eating, finding an exercise routine I love, products that work for me, and with clothes that work, yes I buy in bulk.

I tend to eat Wegman’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt (the 32oz. tub size) and buy 2 per week with fresh blueberries and the family pack size (40 oz.) of Wegman’s Organic Vanilla & Almond Granola. In the summer I use strawberries, and transition to blueberries in the fall.

Now that we’ve hit our first snow day, I decided to embrace a hot breakfast. Not that as a Southern gal, I don’t eat grits anytime of day. And I’m not talking instant grits. I’ll eat the full on old fashioned grits for lunch, dinner or a snack. But back to my “Quick, Healthy Breakfast” that I just discovered.

I’ve tried steel cut oats several times with much frustration. Sometimes they’d be too mushy, they’d burn to the pan, I’ve tried them in a slow cooker, tried with milk vs. water. I mean, most recipes for these steel cut oats recommend cooking 30-45 minutes and stirring throughout. One day, a friend at my gym asked if I’d tried doing them overnight. What the what?!

So, I found this recipe on the kitchn. The whole process took about 5 minutes. I followed the recipe on the kitchn website, which I’ll repost below too, as opposed to the one on the oat’s label. I ran out of mason jars since my husband uses them for paint brush cleaning but I think regular old tupperware works okay too. My batch yielded only 4 servings.

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups steel-cut oats
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional Mix-Ins

Milk or soy milk
Cinnamon or other spices
Raisins or other dried fruit
Fresh berries (I loved blueberries and will try apples and cinnamon next)
Nuts or seeds
Jam
Honey

Equipment

5 pint-sized Mason jars with lids
Large saucepan (I used a medium sized pot, no lid needed)
Ladle

Cook the oats for 3 minutes: Bring the oats, water, and salt to a boil. Simmer for about 3 minutes then turn off the heat. *Note, I cooked mine a little longer to let the water cook down more for a thicker oat consistency. I’d say, I probably went for 5 minutes.

Let the jars/containers stand at room temperature, then refrigerate: Divide the oatmeal among the jars. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for about an hour or until cool to the touch, then cap and refrigerate.

Reheat the oatmeal in the microwave: Take the cap off one jar and stir up the oatmeal inside. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until quite hot. Add milk, raisins, or other mix-ins. *I only needed 1:30 in the mason jar. I also added a little milk first, maybe a tablespoon full and mixed. After I pulled it out of the microwave, it was piping hot and I added the blueberries. 

The original recipe says that you can also add your raisins, cinnamon, or other mix-ins to the rest of the jars before putting them away in the refrigerator. Then all you have to do is grab one and go on your way out the door.

Final notes: I will definitely do this again. This makes a super quick and easy breakfast, lunch, or pre/post-workout snack. I imagine it would be great for busy mom’s too. I started my oats at 10:00PM last night, at 10:05 let them cool while I caught up on Downton and then put them in the fridge. Voilà! Yummy, warm and healthy breakfast that takes VERY little effort. You are welcome.

For the full article check it out on thekitchn website.

 

Another Use for Hydrogen Peroxide-This Time in the Kitchen!

Monday, January 11, 2016

I recently came across a kitchen hack that I was determined to try since it included my new favorite cheapie—hydrogen peroxide combined with another cheapie— baking soda. What could be better?

This time these two products were proposed as a novel solution to cleaning baking sheets, but not just any old baking sheets. I’m talking the ones you’ve had since before you got married or moved in with your significant other. Maybe these are cookie sheets you inherited from a relative. You know, the ones that proudly bear the battle scars of many scorched cookies, veggies (maybe not so often), biscuits, etc.

Mine have definitely seen eight years of marriage, and at least the two years we lived together prior to getting hitched. If I had to guess, these are at least 11-12 years old.

So, I found this article as a suggested link I may enjoy after reading something on Byrdie Beauty. This sent me over to Pure Wow.

In following the directions, I “sprinkled” baking soda on my first small non-stick baking sheet. Now, if you use a regular baking soda container, you’ll find it’s a bit difficult to just “sprinkle” baking soda. It pours out pretty liberally right from the box. Next, you “follow it up with some hydrogen peroxide” which means I just poured it right from the bottle all over the sheet. Finally, you add additional baking soda on top of the hydrogen peroxide.

In order to keep this experiment from getting out of control, I was able to balance the cookie sheet on one side over the sink. You’ll see it in one of the photos. In full disclosure, my first attempt on the small cookie sheet yielded “meh” results. I had used the scouring side of a regular store bought sponge after letting the solution set for 2 hours.

After my disappointing results with the small cookie sheet, I decided to do a second pass on this one and to try another experiment on a larger, standard (not non-stick) cookie sheet at the same time. I set up both sheets, went out to pick up scouring pads and waited for 2 hours.

This time, I had REAL results! Not as perfect as what you’ll see on Pure Wow, but still this leads me to rethink buying any new baking sheets. I really hit my stride when I was using the pasty combo created by the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and scrubbing it with the scouring pads. It took a little elbow grease, but it worked in the end.

Be sure to check out the full article on Pure Wow.

Second, Third Day Hair…(as requested by my bestie)

Friday, January 8, 2016

I don’t think it’s any secret that most hair and beauty professionals recommend you don’t wash your hair everyday. And I definitely embrace this recommendation. Sometimes I embrace a little too much, to the point where I’m sporting hats because no style can save my locks.

Anyway, I typically, go about an average of 3 days unwashed and wait until day 3 for the dry shampoo. Okay, I’ll admit if the hair on day 4 seems workable, I’ll skip the wash. I think my record has been 5. I’m not ashamed.

My biggest ally is my hairdryer. No joke. I don’t use any extra products on the second day, and I still wear it down. I find it looks even better than on day 1. My key is to use the use the round brush with the blowdryer and while blowing it out I hold the brush for a 5-10 second count before releasing after the brush is hot to hold the curl/volume.

On day 2 or 3, I add some dry shampoo. My favorite is Bumble + Bumble’s new powder formula. I also like Kevin Murphy’s dry shampoo. It just depends on how flat my hair looks. I try to wear it down as long as possible. Keep in mind, I am going to the gym and wearing it up 1x a day through all of this and it does get pretty gross. I find using the hairdryer and brushing it out each morning hits the reset on my hair.

I guess it really all starts with what you use in styling after you shampoo and condition. I am a Bumble girl and love the All Style cream. I find it helps extend my blowout.

If I want to skip the blow-dry, I’ve discovered Bumble’s Don’t Blow It is an awesome asset. For that, I get home from the gym, shower and shampoo then put my hair in Princess Leia-esque buns after using Don’t Blow It and when I wake up in the morning I have some sweet beachy waves.

So, now that I sound Iike an ad for Bumble + Bumble…I do also use other products. Minardi hairspray is addictive. If it ever gets discontinued, I swear I’ll buy crates of it first.

My point for this entry, however, is that I try to avoid washing my hair and to continue wearing it down as long as possible. Going to the ponytail or bun is a last day resort. Rocking the beret/beanie/baseball cap is rock bottom. Sometimes a girl’s just gotta do it to get out of the door in a pinch though.

So, save $$$ on shampoo. Save time in the shower and getting ready in the morning. Be a little gentler on your locks. Hit the snooze button. Whatever your reason…get that hair a little dirtier before your next wash.

 

Nail Polish Woes?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

So I have a problem. I pretty much have to wear nail polish or else, yes, I admit, I’m a biter. I bite, I pick. It comes from years of anxiety.

Anyway, I have tried and tested so many nail polishes to see what I can keep on the longest. Once I start to get a chip, then that’s my pick source. And my husband’s source of annoyance.

So, if I have a spare 2 hours (at least), the most solid choice is to give myself a gel mani. The RCM portable LCD light and nail polishes by Red Carpet and Gelish work really well. In fact, I’ve had them last up to 2 weeks.

After trying RCM, I tried the OPI Infinite Shine which claims to give you gel shine and lasting mani without the use of a light. Ummmmm…didn’t last 1 day without chipping.

My go-to non-gel for all colors has always been Essie. So, when they came out with a gel-setter top coat I had to try it out. After talking to some manicurists, I also got some advice on base coats to help a mani last. China Glaze Strong Adhesion Base Coat came highly recommended. That combined with ample time between base, 2 coats of polish, top coat coat and daily cuticle care has helped my regular non-gel manicure last up to a week.

After shaping nails and cuticles with cuticle oil on, I always wipe them down with non-acetone polish remover prior to using my base coat. Then, put on the base coat. Wait at least 10 minutes before the first coat of polish. Then, always make sure you can’t make any marks in your polish before the next coat—you all know what I mean.

I recently went to NYC and VA with black nail polish and didn’t have to do 1 touch up. Pretty impressive.

So, if I don’t have time for gel or want to give the nails a healthy rest…this is my new strategy.

Not a Morning Person?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

This morning I had to be up early—for someone not working right now, let’s just say it was early for me. I’ve always been one to hit the snooze several times and lately done the quick makeup routine, thrown on a hat or put up my hair, and dashed out the door. This morning I vowed I’d straighten my naturally wavy hair, do the full face, actually wear an “outfit” complete with accessories and all. To accomplish all this would mean I’d have to get up ON TIME. Enter the get up in 60 seconds challenge. I found several tips on The Coveteur thanks to their series on “How to Do Anything in 60 Seconds.”

Water by the bed for the morning, moving the alarm clock, skipping wine and caffeine at night, setting a timer on the coffee, and skipping Netflix for the last 30-minutes before bedtime helped this insomniac fall asleep faster and get up without snoozing! Check out the whole series for more great tips on The Coveteur.

Best Buys/Finds of 2015…

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

There are a few items that I found in 2015 that have become essentials. In fact several of these have been purchased in multiples or had to be replaced since I ran through them so quickly in the past year. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite finds in 2015.

1) New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

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I’ve recently bought a second pair of these. I’m also trying the Nike Roshe Flyknits on, but the Fresh Foam are my workout go-to shoe.

2) Chanel Vitalumiére Aqua Sunscreen Makeup & Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Color SPF 15

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I love these two. I’m on my second of each. And I also love the Perfection Lumiére Velvet foundation too for a little more coverage.

3) Beauty Blender

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I know everyone raves about the Beauty Blender. Trust me…I’ve tried substitutes but this one is the gold standard.

4) Apple Watch

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I think the watch has a bit of updates to go before it can track all workouts accurately. Right now the native app doesn’t have anything appropriate for my boot camp/interval-style training. It’s great for running without your phone if you have bluetooth headphones. You can add a playlist to the watch ditch the phone. The watch will track your pace, distance, calorie burn, heart rate, and you can use the music on the watch as you run. It’s also convenient for those of us who keep phones at the bottom of our giant handbags and can never reach them in time to answer a call.

5) J Crew Tuxedo Blazer & Pixie Pant–these are two versatile items that I wear weekly and that travel with me on every vacation. They layer well in any weather too.

6) S’well Water Bottle

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This 9oz. water bottle is amazing. I can carry it in almost any of my handbags. It keeps beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. I got one for my sister and she loves hers too.

7) Invisibobble Hair Ties (available at Nordstrom)

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I have a lot of trouble keeping hair ties secure. My go-to for everyday ponies and buns are Emi-Jay. These Invisibobble are AWESOME and stay put.

8) Nars Lipstick and Satin Lip Pencil

Nars lipstick favorite colors: Dolce Vita, Gipsy, Barbarella, Belle de Jour, Heat Wave

Nars Satin lip pencil favorite colors: Hyde Park, Rikugien, Luxembourg

9) 4th Generation Apple TV – so we were pretty much forced to upgrade when our Apple TV kept crashing multiple times during any show we were watching. The new Apple TV is pretty great. Since I’ve already adopted all the other apple devices, and bought multiple series passes, it was hard to say, “no,” to the upgrade. In the end, I’m glad we did.

10) Tito’s Vodka – this was recommended by a good friend and has saved lots of $$$ at the liquor store over the past year. I typically always bought Grey Goose and I gotta say that Tito’s is really good. Highly recommended.

 

Hydrogen Peroxide…

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I get daily emails from Byrdie Beauty and Refinery29 and when they provide beauty hacks, I’m pretty much ALWAYS up for the challenges. And I was super excited when this one works. SERIOUSLY. Let me break this down. You can use hydrogen peroxide, yes the $1.00 drugstore cheapie that you use to kill germs, for several things.

  1. My main gold mine was to use it to kill bacteria on a pimple. Ewww, yes. I know but it definitely worked. Just dab on a cotton pad/ball and use as a toner.
  2. Also,  I’m a big fan of dark nail polish—black, dark red, purple, etc. But, it always leaves behind dull stains or discoloration. Well, enter hydrogen peroxide. Just a soak and this stuff will clear it right up!
  3. I found it useful in cleaning makeup brushes too.

I must admit I have not tried the articles other suggestions—DIY toothpaste, foot odor soak, and teeth whitening, but if my success so far is any indicator, this stuff at $1.00 is worth the effort.

For the full article click over to Byrdie Beauty 7 Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide.

 

Society6…

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My siblings always give REALLY awesome gifts for Christmas. This year was no exception. Granted, they both live in amazing cities and hear about some cool things, but they are always extremely thoughtful and unique. This year, my sister found us gifts from Society6.

My dad, being completely OBSESSED with the movie, ‘A Christmas Story’, received a throw blanket with Ralphie and the bar of soap in his mouth. My brother received a schematic of the Millennium Falcon blanket. We received a blanket with the X-Files characters designed all over it. I have to think my sister was really thinking more of my husband when she picked this out, but it’s pretty cute.

This site has so many original, cool things on it that I’ve spent hours pouring over future gifts for friends and family.

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X-Files Blanket

 

Workout Motivation and Beliefs…

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I’ve talked non-stop about my own motivations for working out to my friends and family. I’ve also talked about my own beliefs for maintaining a  successful exercise routine. We’re in the first week of January, where so many people’s New Year’s resolutions will be to start a new exercise regimen…but how many will keep up with it?

I just read this article in Refinery29 about Kourtney Kardashian having pangs of anxiety and how exercise is a means of coping for her. Now, seeing as she’s a Kardashian, we know she’ll get a TON of people weighing in on this and some will support her for coming out and saying she’s brave for admitting she has issues with anxiety, others will tell her she has problems with an eating disorder or something. Personally, I applaud her.

As someone who has dealt with anxiety for more than 20 years, and only started working out daily for the last 5 or 6 years, I can tell you that exercise has been the greatest tool I’ve found in combatting panic attacks, general anxiety, it’s helped with insomnia, and much more. It’s also helped strengthen my social network. My gym is so supportive. I’ve made so many great friends and having supportive people there early encourage you to go and keep up with your workouts. Beyond that, it’s improved my self esteem. But I don’t do it to look better, I do it to feel better—to feel stronger. Every single time I clock a faster pace on a run, lift a heavier weight, or find a new exercise I enjoy, I get excited.

To add to that point, I have to mention that I’m pretty tiny. My husband’s most used description of me, “You’re a tiny human being.” I clock in at 5’0″ and about 85lbs. So, I absolutely hate people referring to me as small, which has happened all of my life. Anything I can do to increase my strength, I’m in! Just knowing that I can log 100 pushups (full-on military style) and many guys I know cannot, makes me proud of what I’ve accomplished. And when they don’t believe it and I have to prove it, bring it on.

So what is the key to a successful exercise regimen and more importantly, to sticking to it? You MUST find something you enjoy. Let me say that again. You MUST find something you enjoy. I’m serious. You won’t go if you don’t love it. I absolutely HATE gyms with mirrors on the walls and free weights. I need HIIT or boot camp style with a trainer in a class where I have to be there on time or I won’t do it. I need someone telling me what to do and a place where the routine changes everyday. If it’s a gym where you can come and go anytime, I’ll just sit on the couch all day.

Also, I love running, but only outside. My motivation—signing up for regular runs that I have to train for and if I can train with friends and do it as a team, even better.

Okay, so here’s my own personal second belief about success in being healthy. And this one COMPLETELY contradicts my husband’s beliefs BTW. I workout to feel better, and so that I can enjoy a good meal (be it a gigantic burger and fries and a cocktail) and not feel guilty. I believe in moderation and being able to enjoy the things I want to enjoy—not starving myself on some carb-free, no alcohol diet. My husband believes that if he’s working out he should be eating completely clean, otherwise, what’s the point? It’s all or nothing. I mean, we don’t buy processed food from the store. I cook pretty much all whole foods, eat very little bread, but I do like to enjoy a meal out with friends and a glass (or 3) of wine on the weekend. So, I feel if you deprive yourself of the things you want or enjoy, you’ll feel punished and then just throw in the towel when you fail. I’ve seen it happen (sorry, sweetie).

I’ll be posting some of my own personal workouts that I do when I don’t make it to the gym soon. Some apps that I enjoy that you can do for a quick substitute include Wahoo’s 7 Minute Workout and Fitstar’s Personal Trainer app.

 

What Our Breakouts Tell Us…

Monday, January 4, 2016

I have some pretty frank conversations with my girlfriends, especially my best friend, Annie. Nothing is off limits. It’s always good to have a friend whose house you can visit without showering, dressing, in no makeup, and complete with some pre-period breakouts.

That started a discussion we had about an article I read on Lauren Conrad’s blog about face mapping your breakouts.

I was completely drawn to it since I always seem to breakout in the same place and see a dermatologist regularly, yet he has not provided any of this information. Upon further reading online, I discovered my own breakouts (chin area) could also be anxiety related. Shocker. Anyway, it was pretty interesting.

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