Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Join us for a 30-Day HIIT Fitness and Healthy Eating Challenge!

Are you ready to lose weight, improve your 
cardiovascular endurance, and feel great?

Participate in the

30-Day HIIT Fitness &
 Healthy Eating Challenge!

So, what is a "HIIT" workout?  It stands for "High Intensity Interval Training." The idea behind it is bursts of intense exercise followed by short recovery periods. This type of workout is able to burn more calories and fat as your heart rate reaches the moderate to intense level. To determine your target maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. 

For example, if you are 38, your target maximum heart rate would be 220-38=182. Here is a chart to help you find your target heart rate for maximum fat burning. I recommend that check your heart rate several times during the workout to see where you are.

Below this is a link to a workout tracking sheet containing the exercises and space to record your progress.  You will need to start a timer at the beginning of the workout, and record the total workout time. You should work as hard as you can during each exercise, counting how many you can do before you have to stop. Record this number. After each exercise, take a 30 second rest where you march in place and get a drink if needed. After you get through the exercises, you will go through and do them again, which is why there is a slash in each box for recording the two numbers. On day two, and each day thereafter, your goal should be to increase from the previous day's results! Keep in mind, these are suggested exercises that are known to get the heart pumping. You can change them if necessary or if you have other HIIT exercises that you prefer. Good luck and don’t forget to drink lots of water!  ***Remember, always consult your physician before starting a new exercise program.

Here is how to do the Healthy
 Eating Portion of the Challenge!

Using the chart below, you will record everything that you eat, and the corresponding calories. You should also track water consumption. If you don’t know what your daily calorie goal should be, please visit the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Calculator Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Calculator If you use an app like MyFitnessPal, you can log your calories there and just write the totals on the sheet. 

***Remember to always consult your doctor before beginning a new diet or exercise program.  

A few other thoughts -- this is of course free, and no registration is required. You can start this program whenever you want.  I would love to hear how you are doing! Please comment below! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Five Steps for Creating a Gorgeous Rustic-Chic Wedding!

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What is a rustic-chic wedding? It usually includes a rustic venue like a barn, historic site, or even backyard with a mix of earthy and glamorous décor.  The contrast of old, historic and earthy versus modern and glamorous is very beautiful and unique. In the picture below you can see the rustic elements including the interior architecture of a barn, colorful pennant garland,  and then more modern elements like the white linens and elegant table setting.  Find more inspiration for your rustic-chic wedding below!

1. Select a Rustic Venue

I have always been a fan of rustic weddings, and in fact my very own wedding had a rustic flare to it, held at Historic Baldwin Hall in Millersville, Maryland (pictured above.) There is something really special about old buildings like this one, which was originally built  as a church in 1861, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It features gorgeous arched windows, a lofty Victorian tile ceiling, chandeliers and hardwood floors. It also has a full stage, and a tiered balcony overlook. Keep in mind that a venue like this won't be perfect. You may notice some minor flaws,  but this is all part of the charm and oldness of the building. To find wedding venues like this, look up the National Register of Historic Places online.  

A gorgeous barn venue.

An outdoor wedding at a park or in your backyard. (Don't forget an alternative in case it rains!)

2. Plan Your Table Settings
and Decorating Theme.

Notice the rustic elements (interior architecture, country oak table and table runner) versus the chic elements including  white linens, glassware, candles, chandelier and sheer panels.

Don't be afraid to do go with something bold like these gold linens. This appears to be a backyard wedding, and I love the contrast against the fence in the background.

This table setting has a mirror table top and antique vases which you can sometimes find in a second hand store or Goodwill.

This is one of my favorites! I love the pom-pom decorations and there appear to be white lights strung with them as well which would be gorgeous at night. See below for more pom-pom ideas.

Notice the rustic interior architecture, country oak tables and chairs, versus the elegant white linens, sheer panels, chandelier and flatware.

This is such a simple and elegant table design. The table runner can be made from a long piece of lace fabric and ribbon (tied close to the ground on each side.)

Another gorgeous table design with a rustic, unfinished table and glamorous plates, vases and flowers.

3. Add White Lights, Everywhere!

Something like this is just stunning! A professional wedding planner or decorator could help you pull this off. It's strings of white lights spaced evenly along the barn frame on one side and then brough to a center point.

This is easy to do! These are just white lights wrapped around a tree! You can use battery operated ones or run an extension cord (this will probably be your best bet so that the lights stay bright and you aren't worried about the batteries dying.)

You can find letters like this online pretty easily. I love how they did this for the bar.

3. Hang Some Beautiful Wreaths

4.Add Glamourous Elements!
(including what you wear)

This dress is so gorgeous!

5.Add rustic and chic details that mix it up!

Cute, heart-shaped food picks!
 Click here to purchase!

Simple baby's breath!

These are great for a bridal shower or could be hung in the changing area for bridesmaids!

Add a swing for the kids and for a unique photo opportunity!

A floral garland like this can be wrapped around the ropes on a swing (see picture above), hung vertically through a doorway (you would need multiples), or against a wall for a floral background for photos.

This is an easy and charming detail. Fill an old metal bucket with water and add flowers and floating candles.

Thanks for reading this post! What other ideas do you have?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review of Sally Hansen at-home Gel Manicure Starter Kit (with lamp)

If you have ever had a salon gel manicure, you have probably noticed that they look really nice-- they are extra shiny and "thicker" than your regular salon manicure. They also happen to last longer than a regular manicure, anywhere from two to three weeks, which is why they also usually cost more. The average gel manicure costs between $40 and $50. Enter the home gel manicure kits, such as the one shown below. I have had several gel manicures in the salon and was curious to see how the home kits stacked up. Several companies offer them including this one by Sally Hansen, which I picked because it includes everything to get started. I noticed that Gelish, and Azure also have top-selling home gel manicure kits on Amazon. Read below for the review. For product reviews I give between one star   and 5 stars *****,  one being the lowest rating and 5 the highest. 

Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Kit-
I give this 4 **** out of 5 stars. I was very happy with it! Here is what comes in the Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish kit. I bought mine at Walgreens, but you can buy them on Amazon, and surely lots of other places online. It comes with an emory board, orange stick, nail polish remover pads, three polishes (base coat, color coat, and top coat), a bottle of pure acetone for removal, and an LED lamp.

Using the emory board and orange stick, I filed my nails and pushed my cuticles back. I used one of the nail polish remover pads to make sure my nail beds were free of any oils, and let them dry. I then applied the base coat and put my hand into the lamp, and pressed the button. I actually pressed the button twice for each step because I wanted to make sure my nails came out completely dry, (which they did by the way). Next, I applied two applications of the color coat, and used the lamp after each coat (again, two cycles of drying). Each time you press the button (or cycle as I say) is 30 seconds, so it's no biggie to do it twice. The only negative thing I have to say about the kit, and why I gave it 4 out of 5 stars,  is that when you put your fingers into the lamp after applying the color polish, the nails get so hot that it actually hurts a little. Just a little FYI if you are a sensitive type. Following this step, you apply the topcoat, which really gives it a lot of shine. Again, I do 2 sessions of the 30-seconds under the lamp. I also alternated back and forth between hands to give each hand extra drying time. Otherwise I followed the instructions included with the kit. Last comment, make sure you use one of the nail polish remover wipes to remove the residue after the last step. I didn't realize that I needed to do this when I tried it the first time and kept thinking the nails weren't dry. Once I <read the directions> again, I saw that this is the final step, and that the residue does go away when you do it.

I also want to mention something else about this kit that is really good. The lamp is a LED lamp, as opposed to the UV ones, which of course are bad for our skin and can cause skin cancer long-term. Plus, of course UV light can cause pre-mature aging.  We don't need to subject ourselves to any of that, now do we?

So, here is the final result. Overall, I am really happy with it, and think I will buy some more colors to try out. All three of the polishes went on really easily and consistently. There wasn't any streaking or clumps.   One thing that I will mention, and that I didn't do well enough here is that you should wipe away any excess polish that gets into cuticle or on the skin before it dries, because it's hard to remove once it does.  I definitely think with practice I can get this looking even better. Leave comments below if you have tried this kit or others!

Here is a close-up.

This is my puppy, Ellie. She likes to investigate everything that I'm doing!

Friday, May 12, 2017

How to do a Mother’s Day Breakfast Picnic!


I have been trying to think of something different to do with my mom for Mother's Day this year, because it feels like we do the same things year after year. We have gone out to lunch, brunch, made dinner at our house, cooked out at her house, gone out on the boat, etc… After racking my brain for a while, I finally came up with the idea to do a Mother’s Day Breakfast Picnic at her house. I like the idea because she doesn't have to go anywhere, and it allows me to make something delicious (hopefully) for her to eat. With some personalized extra touches, it could be a very thoughtful and nice way to celebrate Mother's Day.

The idea is to make the food ahead of time (earlier that morning), and then take it to her. Here is what I plan to make. Note, all can be made ahead and then assembled at her house. I will have access to her kitchen, but hope to have nice weather so we can put out a nice tablecloth and eat outside.  I will use a casserole carrier that is insulated to keep everything warm.
Menu- Quiche, waffles with fresh fruit, yogurt and syrup, and orange juice!

Quiche (so many good recipes to choose from!)

Waffles with yogurt, fruit and syrup. Yum! The yogurt is there for taste, and of course to trick you into thinking that what you are eating is actually healthy :)

 Fresh fruit and yogurt. Okay, this is healthy.

And of course, orange juice.

Don't forget the décor, dishes (or paper plates), silverware, cups and napkins!

Gorgeous, small vase of roses and peonies.

A Fun Tablecloth like this from Anthropologie.

Pink melamine plates.

Pink Napkins

And a personalized decoration, like this! This "MOM" sign is really cute, and could be made out of some letter forms and silk flowers from the dollar store. To make,  just cut the heads of the flowers from the stems using a pair of wire cutters and then glue them on to the letter form using a hot glue gun. Very pretty!

How did you celebrate Mother's Day this year? Leave us a note below with your thoughts, ideas, suggestions...