Day 6: Have A Cocktail!

sangria-0711med10722-par001_hd

TGIF everyone!

It’s Friday. It’s summer. It’s time for a cocktail! How is this part of a beauty challenge you ask? A little alcohol will give you a rosy glow of course. I’m kidding. Well, I mean it does give you a rosy glow, but that’s not why I put it on the challenge.

If you’ve looked through the daily challenges, they aren’t all about your physical beauty. They are about feeling happy. And I’ve got to say, happy people are beautiful. They look at life differently. They are more relaxed and less uptight. And let’s face it, they are more fun to be around.

After a long work week, a refreshing summer cocktail is just the ticket.

What’s your drink? Do you have one that you always go to or do you love trying new things? I have a couple that I stick to. A sangria (this is the recipe I use) or a simple vodka and cranberry juice with lime. Although, if it were super hot out and I were hanging outside, nothing beats a Sam Adams Summer Brew, but it has to be out of a cooler and ICE COLD. That’s pretty much it for met.

Let me know what your faves are and if you have a good recipe to go with it.

Have a beautiful night.

Recipe and photo from Martha Stewart

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Day 5: DIY Manicure and Homemade Sugar Scrub

hand

It’s manicure time!

It’s time to park yourself in front of the TV with a good show, a nice glass of wine or cup of tea and all your supplies at the ready.

  • Hand towel
  • small bowl of warm, soapy water
  • nail brush
  • file
  • cuticle nippers
  • nail polish remover and cotton pads
  • cuticle remover
  • polish (including base & top coat)
  • scrub & lotion (optional)

Sugar Scrub
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 Tbls coconut oil (solid) or other oil if desired. Olive, grapeseed, sweet almond or vitamin E are all suitable choices
2-3 drops lavendar oil, optional
I like using the solid oil as it maintains the sugar crystals causing it to be more abrasive. Try both and see which you prefer.

*Mix together in a small bowl for single use.

Step 1: Remove any old polish

Step 2: File
Using a fine-grit emery board, shape the nail from the outside edge in towards the center. Do not saw back and forth as this weakens the nail. For the most flattering effect, the curve of the nail should mirror the base. Oval is the most common or a squared oval or “squoval”

Step 3: Groom
Prepare the nail for polish by removing the cuticle. That thin dead layer of skin that sticks to the nail. Do this by using a few drops of cuticle remover and gently push back the skin with a cuticle pusher or orange-wood stick. NEVER CUT THE CUTICLE! It’s easy to cut too much off and cause bleeding which can cause infection. Use the nippers to trim hangnails only.

Step 4: Scrub & Massage
Over a sink and while hands are dry, use all your sugar scrub and simply rub hands together all the way up to your elbows. Use the nail brush in the soapy water and lightly brush your nail beds and rinse hands and arms under warm, not hot water.

Use a large dollop of lotion and rub into hands and arms in a firm circular  movement until the lotion is absorbed.

Step 5: Prep

Use a cotton pad with nail polish remover to quickly remove any lotion from the nail or your polish won’t stick. Don’t skip the basecoat! It gives the polish something to stick to and protects the nail from discoloration, which is common when using a dark color. Most basecoats also contain ingredients such as vitamin E, protein and calcium to help nourish weak or peeling nails. A ridge-filling base coat has a creamy consistency and smooths grooves on the nail plate.

Step 6: Paint

Use thin layers for best adhesion and quicketst drying time. All you need are three swipes. Start an eight of an inch from the side of the nail and the base of the cuticle, then gently press down on the brush causing it to fan out and cover these areas. Repeat on the other side and finish with a swipe up the middle. Don’t forget to “cap” the edge by dragging the brush down on the final swipe. Don’t worry if it gets on your skin, you can clean it up later. Wait two minutes between coats.

Step 7: Protect

Use a topcoat over dry polish to give it extra long life. There are so many new types of top coats. Matte, crackle, super-strengthening and more you can give your nails a super cool look.

Now put a straw in your wine glass and relax while your nails dry. Tell your significant other that they have to set for a good hour, so you don’t have to do anything. I won’t tell.

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Day 4: New Nail and Lip Color Shopping

Peach of Cake Sally Hanson Complete Manicure

Peach of Cake Sally Hanson Complete Manicure

Time to shop ladies! A new polish and lip color can bring out a whole new you. This time of year your skin color is changing and a new lighter, brighter color can be just the pick-me-up you need. Even though you should typically take your skin tone into consideration, summertime is for fun. So take full advantage of the trends. I love the rainbow of colors that are out now, but I also love the glitter! I’m like a child. Oh how I love shiny things! Nina and I have matching glittery toes right now. Just sayin.

But if you are more reserved and typically wouldn’t wear mint green or a hot neon on your nails, this is the time of year to try something new. Go ahead!

How about just using those colors on your tips for a funky French? Or a half moon mani? Don’t forget, the classics never go out

I love the Sally Hanson Total Manicure Line. Love, love, love it! It dries super fast and stays on really good. I am a huge fan of their nude shades. They are so very pretty. Also, very reasonably priced at somewhere around $5.00. Sometimes, if my nails are bare, I may just throw a quick coat on while I’m running out of the house waiting for coffee at the drive-thru.

But I wanted a little color. This is “Peach of Cake” and it looks a little lighter than it actually is. It is light but bright. I love the coral colors and they go well with my skin tone. I try to stay in the warm color family as cool colors tend to make “mature” hands look older. No thank you!

I had just bought a new lip gloss, so I really didn’t need one. That being said, a girl can never have too many lip glosses. Why do you think Lip Smackers come in packs of ten assorted flavors. I really don’t like lipstick at all. I hate how it tastes. Yuck! I like a yummy, fruity, shimmery gloss that plumps my lips up. You know I love my Baby Lips. I must have 10 or 12 of them floating around between my purse and the car. I love the shades and the fact that they contain sunscreen. Not just because it’s summer. Your lips need to be protected year round. Check them out in the Maybelline section. They come out with new colors and flavors all the time.

Tomorrow is DIY manicure day. While you are picking your new, edgy shade of polish you may want to pick up some cuticle remover (if you don’t have any), a good quality nail file, a cuticle pusher or orangewood sticks, cotton pads and polish remover, so you are fully prepared. And while you’re there, don’t forget to pick up a dry brush and a bag of epsom salts if you haven’t done it yet.

Happy shopping!

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Day 3: Dry Brushing

woman using bath brush

Your skin is the largest organ of the body. But you knew that, right?

Did you know that healthy skin protects your body from chemicals and extreme temperatures and produces antibacterial substances that enable your body to produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun.

Another vital role your skin plays is detoxification. So think about it, if your skin is overrun with toxins and dead skin cells, it won’t be efficient at eliminating waste.

Here are some of benefits you’ll see after several weeks of daily brushing.

• Reduces appearance of cellulite by breaking down and moving around fat cells. Although not clinically proven, many have seen amazing reduction in cellulite appearance, especially when paired with a healthy diet and exercise, naturally.
•Helps remove dead skin cells and encourages new cell renewal resulting in smoother, brighter skin.
•Helps reduce pesky ingrown hairs
•Improves vascular blood circulation and lymphatic drainage encouraging your body to get rid of waste. Therefore helping the body run more efficiently.
•Rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. For those who are doubting how scrubbing yourself with a bristle brush could feel good, try it!
•Helps muscle tone and distributes fat deposits more evenly
•Eliminates clogged pores

All you need is a long-handled natural bristle brush, not one made from nylon or synthetic materials. You want to find one that comes off the long handle, so you can hold it in your hand when getting the easy to reach spots. Brushes usually run from $4 to $10 and can be purchased at drug stores, health food stores or stores with a beauty section. Mine came from Target, of course.

Here’s how to do it:
•Skin should be dry
•Work in gentle circular, upward motions, then longer, smoother strokes.
•Start at the feet and work your way up towards the heart. Lymphatic fluid flows through the body towards the heart, so it’s important that you brush in the same direction (with the exception of your back; brush from the neck down to the lower back).
•After you’re done with the ankles, move up the legs, thighs, stomach, back and arms.
•Be gentle on more sensitive skin and never brush over sunburns, rashes, sores or cancerous areas.
•Ensure you shower to wash away the dead skin cells and impurities and remember to alternate temps in the shower to further stimulate blood circulation (check out Day 1 Detox Bath)
•Follow it up with a good moisturizer. I use Burt’s Bees Lemon and Vitamin E Bath Oil

I have been doing this daily for about two weeks and love the way it feels. I can’t say at the moment that my cellulite is better, but I can say that my sunless tanner goes on with no streaks and my skin feels great. Also if anyone suffers from Keratosis Pilaris (KP or “chicken skin”) this makes a huge difference on the backs of your arms.

Try it. You’re body will love you for it! Just ask fans actress Molly Simms and Victoria Secret model Miranda Kerr who swear by it!

Photo credit and some helpful info from Queen of Green

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Day 2: Lighten Up for the Summer

How was your detox bath? Did you give it a shot? If you didn’t get a chance to try it yesterday, really try to give yourself half and hour before bed sometime this week. You’re body will thank you for it, I promise.

Day 2 is all about lightening up for the Summer.  I know that typically hair salons are closed on Mondays, so actually getting or making an appointment today may be out of the question, but take a few minutes today to look at some different hair styles and colors.

I am a brunette. And I know they say blondes have more fun and all, but I prefer a deep, rich, chocolate brown. But since it’s summertime, I think it’s time to change it up a bit. Now, I’m not talking going platinum or anything. But I have been toying with the ombre look. You’ll have to wait and see.

I don’t want to forget about you other gorgeous ladies. The blondes and redheads of the world. Maybe it’s time to think about taking it down a shade or two with highlights, a bayalage effect or a trendy ombre. I’m a fan of the ombre, can you tell?

Don’t feel left out if color isn’t your thing. Maybe think about switching up your style with a new cut. Maybe a couple inches off the bottom or some bangs or maybe some pretty long layers.

Check out some stunning celebs who are a sporting different do’s these days. Maybe you’ll be inspired. Need some more inspiration? Check out Hair and Beauty. And don’t forget to search Pinterest. You can always find inspiration there!

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By the way, I’ll be waiting for some Before & After photos! And remember, it’s only hair!

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30 Day Beauty Challenge

30day
I don’t know if it was the birthday, PMS or just the mood I was in at the moment, but the other day I looked in the mirror and picked myself apart from head to toe. From “My roots are showing!” to “My feet are too ugly for sandals!” to “Oh God I’m too fat for shorts, let alone a bathing suit!”.

It got me thinking. I wonder how many other people feel the same way. And for the love of God, WHY! Life is too short to beat myself up everyday. There are enough jerks in the world to do that for us.

So to kick off the summer, for the month of June, I decided to do something special for myself everyday to make me feel more beautiful, younger, energetic, radiant and healthy.

Want to join me? You don’t have to do what I do, but I would love to hear your beauty secrets. Do you have a recipe for a foot scrub you swear by or an exercise you do that gives you an ass like J-Lo or a trick to dragging yourself out of bed for an early morning run? I know you’ve got secrets. It’s time to spill the beans.

Day 1: Detox Bath

Once a week for 20 minutes, sit in a hot bath that contains a handful of Epsom salts, 10 drops of lavender essential oil, and a half cup of baking soda. This combo draws out toxins, lowers stress-related hormones, and balances your pH levels

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25 Things you may or may not know about me

Happy Monday everyone! Last week I shared about new format, schedules and structure. More writing is one improvement I want to make. So today I’m just going to share a little bit about me. So, here’s some useless information I thought I’d pass on! I wonder if my friends know all this? Hmmm.

1. I dream of being famous, but hate being in the spotlight
2. I’ve been gray since I was 20, but you’d never know it.
3. I hate easy listening music.
4. Growing up, I wanted to be a marine biologist, until I got a scare in a riptide and now I won’t go in the ocean past my knees.
5. When I was 12 I climbed Mt. Washington
6. I love skeet shooting
7. My favorite dessert is New York style cheesecake with pineapple topping
8. My great, great, great +++ grandfather, Franz Gruber wrote the music to Silent Night
9. I have stupid looking thumbs so you will never see them in a food shot
10. I have mild dyslexia, which I didn’t know until I tried writing code for web design. That was a disaster!
11. Putting your hands in front of my face is a good way to get yourself hurt. Just sayin.
12. I am a licensed Cosmetologist
13. When I was 17 I stole my uncle’s car and drove to Florida
14. I would love to take figure skating lessons
15. I have a dream to someday publish a children’s book
16. I love junior fiction books
17. I lose my voice every Spring and Fall, like clockwork
18. My favorite piece of jewelry (beside my wedding & engagement ring) is a pair of sterling silver earrings with baltic amber that my aunt brought me from a trip to visit our family in Poland
19. I am a hockey mom and a big Bruins fan. Don’t Poke the Bear!
20. I used to hustle pool in high school
21. I drink my coffee really strong and really dark with just a splash of skim milk
22. I’ve been on a diet ever since I can remember
23. I was once confused for Monica Lewinsky
24. I HATE kale, no matter how trendy and healthy
25. Disney World is my favorite place on earth

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Happy Birthday!

cake
Well, yesterday was my birthday. For those who don’t know me, here’s a fun fact. I hate my birthday. I hate the thought of getting older. And I loathe being the center of attention. Although, I do like cake. So you can’t call me a total grouch.

For the past couple of weeks I have been reevaluating some things. I feel like a change is coming in my life. Have you ever felt like that? Like being on the beach when a storm is rolling in. It’s in the air. You can feel the electricity. Smell the charge. The colors change and for a few brief minutes, things look completely different. And then it happens.

Now, I’m not saying a storm is coming. Just change. Something new. Sometimes things just change and you have no control over it. Sometimes they change because you’ve made them change.

I’ll be the first to admit, I am as stubborn a Taurus as they come. I tend to just not listen to you if I don’t agree with what you’re saying. My husband knows this all too well. He gets very aggravated with me and for good reason. I imagine it can be very frustrating.

One thing we have been discussing lately is change. Specifically structure, schedules and organization. Mind you, these are the conversations I am talking about that he can see I have dug my feet in the sand and am not hearing a word he has said. He is a saint I tell you. I’d punch me.

Well, I hope he is reading this because I have heard him and even though it is making me want to gag, I want to say “He’s right”. Yup, there I said it. HE’S RIGHT!

I’m sure you’ve heard it said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”. And for the past couple of years I feel like I have been running in circles. I miss deadlines, forget appointments, misplace items and race to be on time. Yet instead of making changes I complain about how things are and how things have to change, not I have to change of course, but “things”. Am I alone in this? I’ll go out on a limb and say no.

In case you missed the memo. We live in a busy world. Families to take care of, jobs to do, homes to care for. I always ask myself “How do people do it?”. Nannies, chauffeurs, housekeepers and lots of money. That’s what I come up with. In reality I would venture to say that it is all about organization and teamwork. Sadly, organization is not something I am naturally gifted with. I know this. I admit it. For years I have said “I work better under pressure”. That is the mantra of a disorganized person. We convince ourselves we function better under stress because that is what we know.

Maybe it is because I am so wise (I did just have a birthday you know) or maybe it’s that I am completely sick and tired of all the stress I feel lately, but this is where the change is going to start with me. It has to or there will be no growth and everything stays the same.

My good friend Danielle, Editor-In-Chief of the fab online magazine ENJIdaily sent me an article she had written on making changes and it really made sense to me.

I was ready to stop writing here. I went back and forth. It was becoming a burden. I keep saying “I have no time!” Truth is, I need to find wasted time. So for the next week I am going to see where my time is going. If I don’t know where the waste is, I can’t cut it out, right? Have you ever gone onto the internet “just to find a quick (fill in the blank here) and 2 hours later your eyeballs have dried out and you wonder where the time went? That happens to me all the time! Thank you Pinterest.

I am also looking at tweaking my format here. It’s funny because even my blog name came about because of all the disorganization in my life. That should have told me something right off the bat. I have been blogging for 4 years now. I can’t believe it. It has no way morphed into what I had dreamed it would, but once again I have not made any changes to allow that to happen. So please stay tuned while I restructure my life.

Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering. I made a cake and we ate it. I’ll share later though I promise!

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Polish Easter Link Love

Wesołych Świąt

That’s Happy Easter in Polish. I hope. I had to use Google Translator because my Cioci wasn’t around to help me out.

Easter was always a big deal in our house. There were colorful, hand-painted eggs, sugar lambs in our baskets, pierogi, and babka. There was a decorated lamb cake and a butter lamb with a Polish flag for the table.

I have been busy getting ready for our Easter and I wanted to share some love and amazing Polish recipes from some really amazing bloggers. Just click on their photo and it will take you directly to their site.

Have a blessed Easter!

Potato Pancakes (placki ziemniaczane)

Potato Pancakes (placki ziemniaczane)

Cheese Babka

Cheese Babka

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Apple & Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Apple & Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Poppyseed Roll (Makowiec)

Poppyseed Roll (Makowiec)

Paczi z Budyniem

Paczi z Budyniem

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Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate Chia Pudding

I am craving chocolate. Like, really craving chocolate. Like, I would tackle my own child for a bite of her KitKat kind of craving. And since I have that little issue of dieting going on right now, I could be in a real pickle.

Mmmmmmmm pickle.

Sorry. I’ve got issues.

So, back to the chocolate dilemma. We all know a little chocolate is good for us, but let me be straight with you. An ounce or two just isn’t gonna cut it. I need something chocolaty and substantial. Something that is going to satisfy my taste buds and also fill me up, so I won’t continue to search for something else to stuff in my face afterwards.

This pudding does all that and takes almost no effort, which you know I’m all about. The downside…you do have to wait awhile to eat it. I typically make a couple of these and stick them in the fridge and wait patiently so they are readily available when a craving strikes. Sometimes I make them and take one to work with me and it’s ready for an afternoon snack.

These babies only have two ingredients. Yes, I said two! They also do not use a bowl or a mixer, only a simple mason jar. You can add whatever you want to it, fresh berries or shredded coconut, but I typically use just chocolate. I may add some dark chocolate chips or some sliced almonds on top along with a squirt of whipped cream. You have to have whipped cream! I’m okay with an extra 15 calories for 2 tablespoons. They should really post the serving size as mouthfulls not tablespoons. You know what I mean.

All you do is take a clean mason jar, add 1 cup of Chocolate Almond Milk and 2 1/2 Tablespoons of chia seeds. Put the cover on and shake it. During the next 20 minutes, give it a couple more shakes then place in the fridge to set. It will take several hours to set thoroughly and it won’t be quite as thick as regular pudding, but still delicious. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, cocoa powder, sliced almonds or fresh berries and you have a totally crave-worthy chocolate dessert that won’t bust your diet.

You can thank me later.

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