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Saturday, 24th February, 2018

5 Natural Mood Uppers to Make you Happier

Does winter get you down? Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to feel good, our mood is just not on our side. We might be struggling with stress or even more annoyingly, our unpredictable lady hormones, but whatever the cause, I think we can all agree that deep breathing and yoga isn’t always cutting it (sigh…).  So the next time you’re feeling a bit less than awesome, try these natural mood uppers to power you through your day.

Lemon water

 

Homemade lemonade is an instant mood boost– not even exaggerating! At home, use a lemon squeezer to extract the juice from organic lemons; add the juice to fresh water and sprinkle some stevia to make it sweet. This drink is packed with vitamin C and electrolytes, making it a natural energy drink!

Maca

Extracted from the maca root, this powder helps manage your adrenaline levels. This means less of those ups and downs through the day, so you can feel more balanced and positive. You can buy maca in capsules or purchase it in a powder, which you can can add to your morning smoothie.

 

Kale chips

 

Love to snack? If you’ve got a chronic case of the munchies (like me), go for kale chips instead of your usual carb-heavy snacks. Kale chips are full of nutrients that help you feel more energized and happy. You can get them from your local health store or make your own kale chips— it’s way more affordable.

Salmon

 

Salmon is an excellent feel-good food. It has high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals, plus it tastes yummy– just as long as you don’t overcook it! Salmon also has those omega 3 fats, which help with mental stamina and focusing. Overall, it’s without a doubt one of the best superfoods!

 

Ginseng

 

Ginseng is a do-it-all supplement: it increases energy, lowers blood sugar and reduces stress. I sometimes add some ginseng to my protein shake after a workout (when I remember to). Although it’ll never be as powerful as caffeine, it’s certainly a lot healthier and still effective!

 

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The Coziest Home Decor Trends

Your home is your nest. Everyday, it should give you positive vibes, welcoming you with open arms (or doors, technically). Which vibes does your home give? Whether it’s a noisy space or more of a solo one, it should always feel warm and comfortable. When Andrew and I moved into our new home last year, I spent tons of time on Pinterest, collecting design ideas. To share my love of decorating, I’ve listed the coziest home decor trends– many of which I’ve already used in my own home.

Furry Pillows

Cuddling just got a whole lot better! With furry pillows, you can instantly perk up your room. Fluffy and soft, they’re the best for relaxing or to simply add some touchy-feely texture to your space. Plus, nobody can argue that they’re fun! You can spread instant joy through your home by arranging some furry pillows over your couch.

Earth tones

 

Copper and sand are so hot right now. These colors capture the natural charm of the outdoors, offering a light, cottage-like feel even if you’ve got a modern space. In our home, we have lots of furniture with neutral colors, mostly cream and asphalt, which blend easily into our wooden floor. We added other design touches like antlers, candles and blankets– all creating that welcoming, earthy vibe.

 

Fireplace accessories

 

Sitting by the fire is a classic tradition. Make yours seem more inviting by decorating your fireplace with unique trinkets that represent you or your family. Beside ours, we have a large wooden display unit that holds some framed pictures, a vase with flowers and a statuette piece that spells “home”. Arrange these types of items around your fireplace to create instant coziness!

 

Knit blankets

 

Knit blankets feel so snuggly! Spread them over the couches in the living room or the edge of the bed– ah, so relaxing! I recommend choosing ones that match the colors already present in the room; otherwise, they’ll stick out instead of creating harmony. You also don’t have to use blankets that are one solid color; a couple of mine, for example, have a tribal pattern that matches the earth tones in my living room.

Leather… as always!

 

Leather never goes out of style! It’s both timeless and trendy, and will easily work with the rest of your interior. There are tons of ways you can bring leather into your room: sofas, pillows, chairs and rugs. Not only do these leather touches look more luxurious, they also make the room feel more homey.

 

For more design ideas, take my house tour with Andrew so you can see where the magic happens!

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5 Healthy Desserts That are Still Delicious

Trying to be healthy with a sweet tooth isn’t easy. I would know– especially being a huge chocolate addict (guilty). I always find myself craving sweets when I’m working or traveling, but I’ve found the perfect “cheats” for satisfying a sugar fix without the extra calories. Check out these 5 healthy desserts that are still delicious!

1. Berries

 

 

 

Mixed berries does the trick! In a small bowl, I’ll make a fruit salad with blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. They’re full of antioxidants, making them super healthy and energizing. Just make sure to portion your berries properly because after all, they’re still high in sugar.  Any more than half a cup is no longer that healthy (sad face).

 

2. Matcha frozen yogurt

 

 

 

Matcha yogurt is like green tea ice cream, only way better for you! It’s made when green tea leaves are blended into a powder and mixed into frozen yogurt. Then, to sweeten it up, you can add some extra Stevia or agave syrup. All together, you’re getting vitamins, plus probiotics from the yogurt– yum!

 

3. 70% dark chocolate

 

 

 

Ah chocolate! There’s no way we’re skipping on it. In small portions, dark chocolate offers tons of health benefits: lower cholesterol, blood pressure and antioxidants. I always carry some in my purse when I want a little pick-me-up. My favorite is the 70% Lindt chocolate bar, which you can easily find at most convenience stores or Walgreens.

 

 

4. Coconut chips

 

 

Naturally sweet, coconut chips make a great dessert hack. They’re low in calories and super crunchy– great for those who love to munch. You can eat them on their own or sprinkle them over yogurt to create a sundae treat.

 

5. Apple sauce

 

 

 

Applesauce is a household classic. It’s packed with nutrients, but unlike sliced apples, the sauce version is much easier on the tummy (so no bloating). You can buy some or make it from scratch with organic apples and cinnamon. You can check out this great recipe I found for homemade applesauce .

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An Outfit for Every Occasion

Not every fashion-lover has time to plan outfits. When facing a time crunch, being able to leave the house looking awesome is a talent we all deserve. Fortunately, there’s an simple way we can always look chic without even having to try— that hard, at least. Check out these four outfit concepts to keep you stylish and timely no matter the occasion.

 

The office

Shawn Johnson: Before I Fall NY Screening -13

 

Professional and trendy can often be a tricky balance. Lucky for us, high-waisted skirts and maxi dresses have been the fashion staple of the decade! Not only are they super flattering, letting our figures appear longer, they’re also appropriate for the office. To further slim out your figure, you can wear Spanx underneath.

 

For your top, go with a white blouse, or if your work-space is more casual, a V-neck shirt. You can also add a  jacket–either a military style, leather or a sweater drape. Finish with nude sandals or low heeled ankle booties.

 

Date night

Image result for shawn johnson janet mayer

 

As my top excuse to dress up, there’s date night! I personally prefer to wear something comfortable, but you can easily go dressier by wearing higher heels and more dramatic makeup.

 

I recommend wearing either black trousers or skinny jeans, but the truly special kind that really compliment your curves. These jeans can take a lot of time to find because everyone’s figure is so unique. You may end up spending weeks trying on different brands of jeans until you have that “aha” moment.

 

Pair your bottoms with a flirty camisole or a tight black V-neck, topped with a cardigan or blazer. To finish, go with a funky accessory like a statement necklace or a chunky ring.

 

Home lounging

Related image

 

Homebodies can be stylish too!

 

For lounging around, I swear by linen outfits— they’re incredibly soft, snuggly and eco-friendly. Try out a pair of cuffed linen pants with a drawstring and a cropped hoodie. It’s honestly the next best thing to walking around in your PJs—only cuter!. Complete the outfit by slipping on fuzzy slippers and you’re ready to hit the couch.

 

Cute and casual

Related image

 

Finally, there’s your everyday look. This is the one you’ll rock for occasions like casual outings, errand runs and visiting friends. The key here ladies is one word: black leggings– okay, that was technically two.

But without fail, leggings can match any of your go-to tops. You can wear almost any basic top style, either flowy or form-fitting and then throw over a cardigan for a trendy layered effect. For your shoes, go with ankle booties or knee-high boots. Then, toss over a cross-body bag (in a neutral color) for a fun touch.

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Workouts for Your and Him

We’ve all seen those cute and coupley workout videos. From pushup high-fives to hand-holding squats, there’s tons of ways to get in shape with your other half. But even if you’re not that kind of dorky pair, you can always opt for a more standard couple’s exercise. When Andrew and I workout together, we definitely like to keep it more intense, while motivating each other to push through the burn. Whatever kind of flow you’ve got as a couple, here are a bunch of workouts to try.

 

Partner Push-Up

 

Similar to a regular push-up, the partner version is more challenging. You are basically using your own body weight for the movements, but your partner adds more resistance by placing weight on your upper back. Too much? If there’s too much stress, you can try doing knee push-ups instead. Don’t forget to keep your core tight each time.

 

Romantic jog

 

Plan a romantic jog together and take the scenic route. It’s simple and leisurely, letting you spend time together as a couple while also working on your cardio. This activity also offers relief for your mental health; you’re both taking a break for the daily craziness of life to be with nature and each other.

 

As you do more jogs together over time, you will build your endurance and eventually work up to a faster pace over longer periods of time

 

Teach each other a new skill

 

Everyone has their strengths– why not teach each other yours? For example, my passion is the gymnastics center (obviously), so sometimes I take Andrew to do twists on the trampoline. These types of activities build your communication and teamwork skills as a couple. So not only are you getting in shape together, you’re also growing closer!

 

Circuit workout

 

If the gym isn’t your thing, you two can train at home. Try a few rounds of circuit exercises, but instead of mirroring each other motion-for-motion, go at your own speed. Set a timer for ten minutes and rotate between sets of lunges, push-ups and planks. This way, you’re still working out together, but safely at your own levels.

 

Sports

 

Couples who play together stay together. Plus, sports can bring out your competitive sides! Choose one that you’re both enthusiastic about to keep the momentum going. Some of my top choices are tennis, racquetball, rock climbing and bike riding. Water sports are also an option: there’s rafting, kayaking and dual water skiing or boarding– just be careful not to collide!

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Valentine’s Day Night Handbook

You don’t have to be Mr. and Mrs. Romantic to get the most out of Valentine’s Day. Even though many of us are softies when it comes to all that mushy sweet stuff, you can always create your own kind of romance. It’s just a matter of staying true to your own style as a couple. To set you on your way, I’ve created a simple guide for celebrating V-day from day to night.

 

Don’t be a procrastinator

Planning your valentines ahead of time makes it all that much better.

 

Finish your shopping now to collect everything anything you need: a new outfit, fuzzy pillows, show tickets, a couples massage, a salon appointment, chocolates — whatever works! For your evening, you might consider picking up some mood-setters like scented candles, red lingerie, wine or cooking ingredients if you’re planning a steamy night in.

 

A signed card is a must! Make time, before hand, to write something really thoughtful. Consider the time you’ve spent together so far and capture all the things you value in your partner.

 

Be a morning person

Valentine’s Day starts right when you wake up in the morning (joy). Set the tone right away by getting up a tad earlier to keep the celebration going from daybreak to the p.m.— even if you’re not feeling so perky.

 

You can do things like breakfast in bed, morning cuddles, a back massage— anything to put the zing in your morning. Maybe you can even skip your caffeine– but not likely.

 

Plan the surprise

If you’ve chosen a gift, plan a romantic delivery. This means taking your time with all the little details involved like choosing the wrapping paper and ribbon to give more personality to the gift. Then, you’ll find the exact right moment to give it, so you can surprise them in a meaningful way! You can check out my guide to gift giving to make yours as memorable as possible.

 

Set the mood

Nighttime romance means getting cozy.  So be ready with all the goodies you need for a close and cuddly evening. You can get as extravagant or as laidback as you like, ranging from strawberry fondue or just watching romantic comedies in your PJs. I’m personally a sucker for dessert making— but you can go with any activity that gets you both giggling and snuggling.

 

Valentine’s Day is around the corner so don’t wait. Make a checklist and finish it soon so your day of romance falls easily into place. And don’t fill up too much on chocolate!

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Valentine’s Recipes for a Steamy Night In

 

Staying indoors for Valentine’s day? Sometimes those simple, cuddly nights-in make the best evenings— plus, they’re a lot more affordable and easier to plan. And best of all, you don’t need to worry about showing too much PDA (awe!). To help you two get started, I’ve collected my top romantic recipes that are practically too good to share.

 

Cherry Martini

5 m, 1 serving

1 cup ice cubes

  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) chocolate vodka
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) cherry vodka
  • 1/2 fluid ounce grenadine syrup
  • 1 fluid ounce creme de cacao
  • 1 fluid ounce half-and-half
  • 1 dash chocolate syrup
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 chocolate kiss candy– or candy of choice!
  • OPTIONAL: You can a pinch of spice if you’re feeling feisty
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Pour in the chocolate and cherry vodka, grenadine, creme de cacao, half-and-half, and chocolate syrup. Cover and shake until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Finally, garnish with a maraschino cherry, a chocolate kiss and a REAL kiss!

 

Creamy Bites: Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

6 servings, ready in 40m

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 1 cup cooked crab meat (or imitation crab) chopped into bits
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs or substitute for gluten-free ones
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten

 

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry or fresh dill weed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh button mushrooms without the stems
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet; cook and stir green onions until soft– about 2 minutes. Place the green onions into a bowl. Then, mix in the crabmeat, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, egg, lemon juice, and dill weed, until it becomes a chunky blob.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter in a large baking dish. Now coat the mushroom caps in butter and inside, fill them with the crab mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese. Your mouth should be watering at this point.
  4. Pour white wine into baking dish.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until cheese is melted and lightly brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

 

White Chocolate Fondue

15 m 8 servings

  • 1 (12 ounce) package white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add all ingredients to list

 

  1. Melt white chocolate chips, cream, corn syrup, butter, and salt together in top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently, until smooth and glossy, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove fondue from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

 

Cutesy Chocolate Cupcakes

8 servings, ready in 1 hour 20 min

  • 1 cup white sugar or stevia (diet :D)
  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour ( or substitute for gluten-free almond flour)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch pan. Then, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then, add egg and vanilla, and beat well.  Pour in flour mixture, while alternating with coffee. Beat all together to mix!
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes. And FYI, make sure they’re cooled off before frosting (my favorite part!)

 

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The Guide to Gift Giving

As Valentine’s Day sneaks closer, some of us panic. We all want to find the right romantic gift, the kind that makes our loved one feel special and valued. As the old saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts”– but boy, can that thought be tricky! To help you along, I’ve created a guide to gift giving based on what has worked for me in the past. This process can be done in three phases: the thought, the preparation and the surprise!

 

The thought

  1. First, consider what they like. If it’s cooking, some new kitchen gadgets might be appreciated or if it’s technology, you might consider the latest Google or Apple thingie. Maybe they love their hair– a high-end grooming set, maybe?

 

  1. Unique and well-planned is more meaningful than how much you spend. At the same time, though, nobody ever huffs and puffs about getting pricey trinkets! So, it should be a balance between respecting your price range, while also making the gift thoughtful.

 

The preparation

 

  1. The goal is to make them smile before opening the box. I remember once, Andrew gave me a gift wrapped in the dorkiest neon yellow packaging– it had me smiling right away! That’s the idea.

 

  1. Take your time choosing the wrapping paper and ribbon to give more personality to the gift. This way, the experience will be way more memorable!

 

  1. Include a card that explains the gift and your thoughts behind it. This extra detail touches their heart!

 

The surprise!!!

 

  1. Unexpected wins every time! Besides, isn’t it so much nicer when you get those butterflies? Choose a moment to give the gift when they least expect. Here are some ideas:
  • First thing in the morning
  • When they’r taking a shower
  • At their work
  • While they’re getting ready to go out
  • In an Uber ride

 

With this sweet approach to gifting, you’ll not only make them feel loved, you’ll also be making memories!

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Everything Red, Hot and Ready to Wear

 

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and it’s time for outfit planning. Whether you’ve got plans with your man or your single ladies, half the fun is dolling up! I’ve collected some of my favorite outfit and makeup ideas, so you can get an early start on creating your perfect look. Feeling excited? Here we go!

 

Red liquid lipstick

 

Classic and romantic, red lipstick is a showstopper. It makes your lips look more kissable (mmmm), while also making you feel sexy from the inside and out.

I recommend going for liquid lipstick instead of a traditional one because the pigment tends to be stronger. Basically, you get a more fiery red. But if intense red isn’t your cup of tea, you can always opt for something more subtle like a berry colored gloss.

 

Invest in your assets

 

Lingerie is always a highlight for V-day! This year, let’s focus on pieces that are perfectly suited for our body type.

 

Bras

 

For most figures, a plunging neckline bra is the most flattering. It helps your upper half appear longer and works especially well with low-cut cut shirts or dresses– just in case you’re planning on showing off a little sneak peek of cleavage…

Yet, if you tend to be curvier up top, you’ll want a strong-hold full cup bra to keep your goodies afloat. I swear by the bras from the Prima Donna collection— the designs are gorgeous and they lift up the girls really well.

 

Shapewear

 

For shapewear, I always go with Spanx. They hug you in all the right places to smooth out your hips and give your bum a rounder, cuter shape. I recommend the high-waisted shorts because they also help pull in your tummy– so win-win…

 

Once you’ve put together your dream lingerie look, you’ll feel amazing in your new outfit… and definitely in your own skin!

 

Little black dress

 

You can never go wrong with the little black dress. It offers the best of both worlds: hotness and class, the best combination for celebrating love! Of course, if the “little” part doesn’t work for you, there’s always the option of a longer maxi style dress. For ideas, you can check out the one I wore for the Nylon Dinner event back in 04.

Then you can finish the look with a cool statement necklace to spice up the dress.

 

Skinny heels

 

Sorry to all you chunky heel fans, but skinny heels are a must. They help slim out your ankles and give the illusion of longer, slimmer legs (yes!). You can go for strappy sandals, but if you’re headed somewhere more casual, ankle booties or knee-high boots can feel more fun!

 

As the finishing touch, spray on some perfume and you’re ready to go!

 

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Dating Rule Book: How to Find Mr.Right

Let’s face it: dating is tough. I’ve heard so many stories from friends. Sometimes it can begin great, and then POOF, he’s a ghost, or other times, you might feel like you’ve taken up a second job in over-analysing and decoding texts. Jeeze! Honestly, there’s no perfect recipe for dating, but there is a way to seek love while keeping your confidence high. That’s why I’ve created this mini dating rule book on how to find Mr.Right.

 

1. Respect your boundaries

 

Weak boundaries make it easy for people to overstep them. What are your boundaries? Maybe you don’t like last-minute plans? Or maybe you really like when he communicates often? Whatever your boundary, make sure you never compromise on your needs because you deserve to be happy in your relationship.

 

Never be afraid to make your boundaries clear when needed. Otherwise, people can take advantage of you, especially if you’re too nice.  Remember, there’s nothing “nice” about sacrificing your boundaries. If you stay strong in what you value, you’ll find the right match. Anyone who doesn’t respect that is not the right person.

2. Value honesty

 

Okay, as many of us have probably discovered (sadly), not everyone is honest. But it usually takes time to know this quality about someone. Sometimes people can seem really charming at first, sweeping you away before you’ve truly learned what they’re all about. Always watch to see if a person’s actions match their words to know if they’re genuine. Usually, an honest guy won’t talk loosely and casually about making big plans with you such as trips without getting to know you first.

 

3. Love yourself

 

In order to find love, we need to love ourselves. Keeping busy with activities that you enjoy or setting personal goals will help you become the best version of yourself. Happy people attract happy people. Your hobbies could be something casual such as cake-making (like I tried) or even something active like dancing or gymnastics. When you invest in a special activity, you feel more fulfilled, creating positive energy that will attract the right people.

4. Be in the moment

 

Making memories is an important part of dating. So, as much we want to focus on the future, it’s also important to appreciate the moment. A huge part of connecting with others is just enjoying the little things, like common interests or jokes.

 

I asked Andrew to weigh in on the issue and he agrees that people sometimes place too much pressure on the future when dating. Although it’s super important to have dating goals and expectations, you also want to focus on making enjoyable memories and experiences with the person. That’s how people connect naturally.

 

5. Takes risks

 

Do you put up walls? Sometimes bad dating experiences prevent us from taking new risks. There’s nothing wrong with being careful with your heart, but you also need to let yourself be vulnerable for love and trust to build. So, if you had a great date with someone, don’t be afraid to text him and say, “I had a nice time” or even “You looked cute last night”– guys appreciate compliments as much as we do.

 

6. Observe priorities

 

People focus on what matters to them. Look for someone whose values align with your own priorities. Do you value family? Religion? Money? Find someone who shares a common idea of the “dream” life so that your visions compliment each other.

Andrew and I share the perspective that dating serves the purpose of finding who you ultimately want to marry. Neither of us “casually” dated– not to say that our way is the right way. Dating is simultaneously the most fun, terrifying, and worthwhile experience that anyone can go through! Enjoy it, but make sure you know what you’re looking for.

 

 

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