I’m Still Here! (Just Distracted by the Olympics!) Tuesday, Jul 31 2012 

So sorry for my absence this summer. I’ve been busy- in the midst of moving, still, if you can believe it. Apartment hunting soon, traveling with the kitties, and lots of back and forth from the Cape. Can’t complain. Lots of fun summer projects, not the least of which is absorbing every bit of Olympic wonder.

Whether it’s ferociously devouring every Kate sighting- how GORGEOUS did she look in this picture from the Royal Academy of Arts last night? And she just exudes all sorts of adorable during her Olympic sightings-or cheering on Missy Franklin, and my fellow Massachusetts (Falmouth!) resident Aly Raisman, I’m stocking up on lots of blog posts for when I can get back to posting.

 

I’m also slightly obsessed with the best “Call Me Maybe” cover yet. Check out “Call Me Lochte”- how yummy is Ryan, by the way?

 

And huge congrats to Michael Phelps, who now has the most Olympic medals of any Olympian ever. Very cool for a FAC swimmer:)

How is everyone enjoying the Olympics? What’s your favorite event? Besides Kate watching, of course…

 

 

Go Team USA!!!

first photo courtesy of tressugar.com

second photo courtesy of gossipcenter.com

third photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com

fourth photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com

Yoga Mat Yumminess: Part One Monday, Jun 4 2012 

As part of my get-ready-for-Beach fitness plan, I have kicked my Pilates workouts into high gear.

Whether you prefer a mat workout or to sweat and stretch on the Reformer or other machines, you need to surround yourself with quality equipment. An essential part of any Pilates or Yoga workout is a great mat. I have tried my fair share of yoga mat variety over the years, and a clear winner has emerged.

 

I am partial to the “The Mat” by lululemon. I have a bright pink version and LOVE it. I pretty much worship everything by lululemon, but this mat is actually made of superior materials that prevent slipping and scrunching throughout the workout. The rubber and cushioning are all perfect for any pose you can imagine. I also indulged in the “strap mat” which makes trekking to and from the gym (and keeping my mat perfectly rolled up during storage) a cinch.

 

 

 

 

There are certainly other viable options for quality yoga and Pilates gear. I’ve tried almost every material, color and size of mat. Everyone will find their own preference through their own journey, and my favorite is my wonderful pink lululemon friend.

 

What is your favorite yoga mat?

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of flexionfitness.com

second photo courtesy of shop.lululemon.com

third photo courtesy of shopcrazy.com

Happy June! Friday, Jun 1 2012 

Happy June!

The first of the month always brings refreshing changes. June is one of my favorite months. In June, we will see the Summer Solstice and plenty of fabulous summer movies. Not to mention Beach Weather, corn on the cob and s’mores. What’s not to love about June?

June 1 is also the anniversary (6 years!) of my first date with my husband. This is the first “date-versary” we will be celebrating as a married couple. Yay! With June also comes a change of scenery for us: we will sadly be leaving the gorgeous city of Charleston, SC and we are heading up to Ballston Spa, NY for my husband to continue his Naval training. Good news is we’ll be able to spend some quality time back in Massachusetts with our families along the way. I just love Summer on the Cape.

What is your favorite part of June?

Media Credit:

first photo courtesy of mpithcc.org

second photo courtesy of whatscookingamerica.com

Bountiful Beach Bag Thursday, May 31 2012 

With Beach Season having arrived in full force here in South Carolina, the time has come to put together my always-ready Beach Bag. In the summer months, I pretty much always have a durable tote full of my beach essentials by the door ready to go. When it’s time to hit the beach, you don’t want to spend minutes (or hours) searching for your sunscreen or favorite sunnies.

Here is a quick run down of what I always have in my Beach Bag:

Sunscreen. Duh. As a pale redhead, the sun is not always my friend. As much as I love to lay out and soak up the sun, I’ve had plenty of bad sunburns to learn my lesson. I like Neutrogena and Aveeno for non-greasy coverage. SPF 30 or higher at all times!

 

Sunscreen. I am very rarely at the beach alone, and have come to be known as a reliable sunscreen provider. But, as I mentioned that Neutrogena and Aveeno are my faves, they are not cheap. And when I’m doling out dollops to sometimes dozens of my hubby’s friends who are running in and out of the water every fifteen minutes, I could easily go through a tube every few days. So, I always have a cheaper spray-on, waterproof back-up to generously hand out to fellow beachgoers. Let’s face it, the boys don’t care if the lotions are greasy or clog pores! I also like to carry multiple levels of SPF protection, and save the higher SPF numbers for fellow sunburn victims.

 

Sunscreen. This time for my face. I am obsessed with the Neutrogena Face Stick- the perfect, non-greasy, non-yucky, non-makeup ruining, non-skin clogging sun protection, and the only thing I’ll use on my face.

 

Hair brush. Sometimes we go right from the beach to grab some drinks, and who wants to be the high maintenance girl who has to stop at home first to brush her hair? My trick is to dip my head backwards into the ocean, slick it back, and then brush it through to avoid tangles.

 

Chap stick. Lip protection is as vital as anything else, and I am always armed with an arsenal of anti-chapped lip weapons. NIVEA, Chapstick, Blistex, you name it, I have at least 4 in my beach bag at any time. A good tip to avoid a melted stick is to hide it in my sunglasses case and shove it to the bottom of my beach bag.

Baseball cap. No matter how much Neutrogena and NIVEA I slather on my face, those delicate eyelids can still get burned if I remove my sunnies for even a few minutes to avoid raccoon eyes! So I worship the sun gods from the safe umbrella of a pink Red Sox hat.

 

T-shirt. Even if it’s tissue paper thin, I use this more than anything. To protect my face from the sun as I lie on my back, to pillow under my head if I’m on my stomach, or to throw on if the sun starts to set, taking the warmth with it. Especially if you’re boating, a comfy, soft, 100% cotton T-shirt is an absolute must!

 

 

I usually pack snacks (BBQ chips are my faves on the beach!) and bottled water or, depending on what beach I’m hitting up, a nice cold beer in a cooler. Another must: a clean, dry, sand-free Ziploc bag to protect my phone and iPad. Sand somehow gets everywhere, and plastic baggies come in every size. They seem to be the only way to keep all those pricey electronics safe.

What is your must-have in your beach bag?

Happy Summer! See you on the beach!

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of capecodbeachchair.com

second photo courtesy of drugsdepot.com

third photo courtesy of latestbeauty.com

fourth photo courtesy of hotcouponworld.com

fifth photo courtesy of newenglandusa.com

sixth photo courtesy of thegreenestdollar.com

seventh photo courtesy of beachpassion.com

Style Spotlight: Mariska Hargitay Thursday, May 24 2012 

I’ve been a huge fan of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit from the beginning, almost solely because of the chemistry between Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson and Chris Meloni’s Elliot Stabler. But, of course, the TV gods can be cruel, and Elliott just disappeared after 12 years together. No goodbye, no dramatic shoot-out, no set up for an incredibly emotional and powerful climax they’ve been building up to for 12 years. He was not written out of the show at all. Yes, I’m still bitter about it.

Anyway, I still watch SVU (sporadically) now for the sole reason of my Mariska girl crush. She is so stunningly gorgeous, but still approachable and relatable. Perhaps it’s because we’ve seen her blossom and evolve from young TV ingénue to a bona fide series powerhouse and Emmy-winning star. Who else can carry a show so dark, gritty and downright disturbing as SVU and make it one of the most successful prime time dramas around? Oh, right, Chris Meloni. But everyone knows Mariska is- and always has been- the real heart of the show. You can’t help but adore her.

As the daughter of the late beauty Jayne Mansfield and actor Mickey Hargitay, Mariska had bombshell looks and award-winning acting in her genes. She was also a former Miss Beverly Hills USA.

She picked up an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama in August of 2006. She had just given birth to adorable son August two months earlier. I loved her Emmy-winning fashion look of dramatic bangs, long hair and a glamourous black gown. Very un-Olivia. Elegant, understated and just perfect.

As much as I loved her look that big night, I was even more impressed by the bright yellow one-shoulder Carolina Herrara gown she wore two years later at the 60th Annual Emmy Awards. Another departure from Olivia’s tough, leather jacket look, she exuded happiness and sunshine all night long.

Another gorgeous Red Carpet moment in classic black: the 2010 Oscars. Mariska wore a black Vera Wang gown with amazing jewels.

At the 2011 SAG Awards, Mariska rocked the Red Carpet in a bold indigo Isaac Mizrahi gown, complemented with stunning turquoise accessories.

If you still weren’t convinced of her overall loveliness, look no further than her Joyful Heart Foundation.Mariska took her Olivia Benson role one step further, and started this amazing foundation to help real-life victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and abuse. It seems that wherever she goes, she brings peace, warmth and joy.

It seemed odd to me, after watching season after season, that Mariska wore the exact same two short gold charm necklaces on the show every single episode. Upon research, I discovered that they are to gain awareness for the Joyful Heart Foundation. It wasn’t that Olivia has no sense of style and relies on the same accessories for years; the jewelry line “Me&Ro”benefits the Foundation. Olivia sports the “Fearlessness” pendant and “Lotus Mandela Amulet” for a great cause. Learn more about the necklaces here.

Mariska has proven herself to be a truly admirable woman of integrity, grace and style. Rocking a powerhouse TV role, starting a foundation to help others, and being a doting wife to hubby Peter Hermann (he plays a laywer on SVU a lot) and loving mom to 3 children-2 adopted- and looking fabulous while doing it all.  I just adore her!

 

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of poptower.com

second photo courtesy of zimbio.com

third photo courtesy of fanpop.com

fourth photo courtesy of fabsugar.com

fifth photo courtesy of bestcelebritydress.com

sixth photo courtesy of poshposh.com

seventh photo courtesy of bossip.com

Inner Thigh Insanity Tuesday, May 22 2012 

Ahh, summer. Spending long, leisurely days lounging at the beach, soaking up the sun and refreshing ocean breeze. Sipping pina coladas on the deck watching the sunset.

Pulling subconsciously at your too-tight bikini as you attempt to infiltrate a fun game of beach volleyball. Wincing as you remove your cover-up, or refusing to lay out sans jean shorts, lest someone witness your gym absence for the bleak winter months.

 

My least favorite body part has to be my inner thigh area. The seemingly impossible-to-tone fleshy area plagues many women. Along with the tummy, butt, legs, and hips. But those inner thighs are killer. I have found they are insanely difficult to tone- no amount of squats, lunges, runs on the treadmill or Zumba classes will ever make that area attractive.

To be 1000% honest, the only results I have ever seen take hold of my inner thighs have come courtesy of a few select Pilates moves. As a certified Mat Pilates trainer, these are my favorite (in a love/hate way) exercises to do lying on my side. You don’t need to devote hours per day to a grueling, private session. Just indulge in these 4 moves for 20 minutes per day, and watch your legs transform before your eyes!

Side Leg Lifts: These are simple, but they seem to work wonders. Be sure to keep your core strong (no slouching or pooching) and move at your own pace. I do 3 sets of 10 lifts on each leg.

Scissors: Keeping both legs straight, and stretching behind both knees as much as you can, alternate legs. Keep your core engaged and remember to inhale and exhale deeply. I try to pull each leg a teeny bit closer each time. I do 3 sets of 6 reps on each leg.

Bicycles: You will feel these babies working. I recommend finding a Mat Pilates class near you or watching a decent instructional video to properly grasp this technique, but I like to think of it as “extending your leg in front, straightening behind the knee as much as possible, and keeping your hips as still as possible, swing your straightened leg around in a clockwise motion, extending all the way behind you and then bend you knee in to your chest again” I do 3 sets of 6 on each side, in each direction. Enjoy!

Side Stretching Lifts: not the technical name for this move, but the stretch part is vital. After you’ve endured the bicycles, firmly plant the foot of your top leg flat onto your mat in front of your abs, and then lift your bottom leg in swift, controlled motions. This should feel ah-may-zing after you’ve really worked those thigh muscles (you’ll feel this in the inner thighs as well as outer butt/hips- yay!)

Of course, when beginning any new exercise regimen, consult your health care or fitness professional. I am a Pilates instructor, but of course everyone is different and every body is different. Please do not continue a fitness program that causes you pain in your lower back (or anywhere, for that matter)- you want to feel sore like you worked the muscles the day after a work out, not like you are unable to walk.

 

Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen, these Pilates moves will whip those inner thighs into beach-ready shape. No more cover-ups needed. See you on the beach!

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of shutterstock.com

second photo courtesy of avaxhome.ws

third photo courtesy of womenshealthmag.com

fourth photo courtesy of pilatesonfifth.com

fifth photo courtesy of purelyfitness.com

sixth photo courtesy of pilatesonfifth.com

Sorry, But I Hated The Avengers Monday, May 21 2012 


I know, I know, it’s like the coolest, most action-packed film of the summer. It’s making tons of money. It’s been hailed as one of the most successful blockbusters since Avatar. But I hated it.

Rampant with clichés, overly full 3D-action sequences, and seriously lacking any character development or original ideas, I thought it was a huge waste of time. Seriously, they have some severely talented actors, and this is what they come up with.

Highs:

The first time I laid eyes on Robert Downey Jr., in Iron Man, I was hooked. His charisma, confidence and bad-boy-comeback charm was perfect for the “billionaire genius playboy philanthropist” Tony Stark story.

His scenes were the bits of warmth of excitement in the overly ambitious Avengers. Oh, and the Gwyneth Paltrow inclusion made his scenes even stronger.

Jeremy Renner is the newest addition to my “I will watch him in anything” list (short list: Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Rachel McAdams, so far) and his rugged, tough guy Hawkeye character was pretty fun to watch. In a pure fluff entertainment way, not in a character development way that this Oscar nominee and Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol star is capable of. Looking forward to watching him in the new Bourne flicks!

 

Mark Ruffalo arguably provided the highest quality acting performance in the whole film. His brooding, guarded sexiness provided the only hints of tension and an actual plot. I thoroughly enjoy him as an actor, and felt that he too, was wasted in his scenes.

Lows:

Scarlett Johansson. I just. Can’t. Stand. Her. Every time she speaks I want to suck on a cough drop and then toss her several hundred.

Chris Evans. I never really understood the “heartthrob” appeal here. He’s utterly uninteresting, and by far the most dry character on screen. His whole “there’s only one God”-after he meets freaking Thor- is just trying way too hard to engage the whole 1940’s Captain America bravado. I wasn’t buying it. His only humorous part? His punching bag pets. And even then, super unoriginal and trying way too hard for a forced chuckle.

Samuel L. Jackson. He is probably one of the most intimidating actors in Hollywood- anything he touches usually turns to blockbuster gold. But here, his eye patch is so random, and all of his lines are so predictable that it’s almost hard to watch. He has made a great niche for himself by playing the same character over, and over, and over. Good for him, but he gets lost in an ensemble cast like this.

Chris Hemsworth. Some pure hunky beefcake opportunity was totally ruined by his wannabe Game of Thrones accent. Hopefully he pulls off the “hot and strong destructive force” better in Snow White and The Huntsman.

 

 

 

 

Also, sorry, but I just could not handle seeing Robin Scherbatsky in a tight black leotard.

All in all? A super unoriginal, unimaginative, trying WAY too hard attempt at a summer popcorn 3D blockbuster that is simply capitalizing on all the superhero redux movies of the past 10 years.  I’m sure it will still rake in the multi-millions, and congrats, because it sure looked expensive to make.

Have you seen The Avengers? What was your opinion? Maybe I would have felt differently-and less disappointed- if they didn’t show a FABULOUS trailer for The Dark Knight Rises right before this far inferior action flick?

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of marvel.com

second photo courtesy of digitalspy.co.uk

third photo courtesy of buzzbox.com

fourth photo courtesy of blog.zap2it.com

fifth photo courtesy of movies.gearlive.co

sixth photo courtesy of collider.com

seventh photo courtesy of moviefanatic.com

eighth photo courtesy of moviefanatic.com

ninth photo courtesy of thegate.ca

Essie “Big Spender” Thursday, May 17 2012 

Trendy. Edgy. Bold. Fashionable. Exotic. Spectacular.

 

All words that have bandied about in my brain to describe the “dark” world of nail lacquer and the hands lucky enough to wear such colors.

 

Even during my acrylic nail days, I was always just a bit secretly envious of ladies who could pull off bold, dark nail polish hues. My sister, who has very similar coloring to mine, has long been a fan of OPI’s famous “Lincoln Park After Dark” and has been a friend of the darker manicures. I always covered away from anything beyong white French tips for years, and during my natural nail journey, this is by far the darkest I’ve ever gone.

 

Essie “Big Spender” has warmed my heart and welcomed me into the magical world of darker nail colors. The perfect purple undertones and clean lines (ahh, I admit, the application was a bit trickier than with “Mademoiselle” or another pale hue) have been a beacon of hope for my future in the world of darker manicures. Such a brave new world!

 

What’s your favorite dark nail polish color?

 

 

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of well.ca.com

second photo courtesy of frugalupstate.com

third photo(of my manicure) from my iPhone

Cougar Town: TV’s Gal Pal Destination Wednesday, May 16 2012 

Monica Gellar- I mean Courtney Cox Argquette-’s fabulous TV show Cougar Town is quite the guilty pleasure. Shirtless 40-year-old guys, wine-drinking wives and lots of witty banter- what’s not to love?

While the show enjoys a brilliant cast, it’s future has been a bit up in the air lately. Will it be renewed? Will it be cancelled? When is it coming back? What night will it air? Will it be on TBS? ABC has been toying with the feel-good funny lady vehicle for what seems like forever. While certain aspects of the show have been uncertain, one thing is clear: girls rule. The power of one of Hollywood’s most lasting friendships has seen to that.

 

One of my favorite episodes (I must admit, I don’t watch the show every week, I catch it when it’s on and seek it out online later) featured Courtney’s 90’s partner in crime Jennifer Aniston. While I still quote the kooky therapist’s line (“My anger is a purple balloon…I just let go…”)

 

I’m sure I can’t be the only one who tuned in to see what Monica and Rachel would be like post-Central Perk.

 

 

 

But another almost equally-famous team of gal pals might save the small screen favorite. Cast member Busy Phillips has been vocal about her feelings towards the way the show has been treated.

The Dawson’s Creek alum has also spoken out about wanting her BFF Michelle Williams to join her on the show for some good hearted (certainly not Oscar-nominated) fun.

Since they’re often spotted on the Red Carpet together, why not bring the ladies back together in the cul-de-sac? If Monica and Rachel can weather the ages and reunite as totally different characters years later, why not Jen and Audrey?

 

What do you think about Michelle Williams appearing on Cougar Town? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of fanpop.com

second photo courtesy of homorazzi.com

third photo courtesy of fanpop.com

fourth photo courtesy of eonline.com

fifth photo courtesy of usmagazine.com

sixth photo courtesy of instyle.com

seventh photo courtesy of ibtimes.com

From Today’s Kitchen: NEW! Peanut Butter Cookies Tuesday, May 15 2012 

As much as I love practicing my staple, good ol’ standby chocolate chip cookie recipe, I was itching to add another baked treat to my cookie repertoire. Sugar cookies were a dismal failure (maybe I should have tried before I spent $40 at sur la table on fabulous cookie cutters) and oatmeal raisin cookies are always fun for my husband, and they happen to be my dad’s favorite. But my peanut butter obsession has recently taken a surge into overdrive, hence the desire to meld two of my favorite things: peanut butter and a perfectly baked, fresh from the oven, warm cookie.

I stumbled upon this FABULOUS website, www.addapinch.com , where creator Robyn whips up deliciousness on a daily basis. I’ve tried her creamed spinach recipe, and fell hard for this decadent peanut butter cookie yumminess!

The first time I tried her recipe, I noticed it was very similar to cookies I had actually been making for years! Every Christmas season, my mom and I labor over (and then devour) what we call “kissy” cookies. Kissy cookies basically consist of this peanut butter cookie recipe, but include a scrumptious Hershey’s kiss plopped in the middle before they cool. This peanut butter cookie simply substitutes the forked lines (which is super fun) for the chocolate treat in the middle. Much healthier, right?

Another goal of this peanut butter cookie foray: to discover a cookie dough that I can resist indulging in off the spoon during the Kitchen Aid mixer process. Mission: NOT accomplished. This dough is just too freaking delicious.

Anyway, here is the recipe I used, courtesy of the always inspiring www.addapinch.com. Even typing these out make my mouth water! YUM!

Ingredients:

2 sticks softened butter

2 cups peanut butter ( I strictly favor creamy)

1 cup brown sugar (you will also need about ½ cup in a shallow bowl to roll the cookies before putting them on the cookie sheet-another majorly fun part!)

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp salt (super important for flavor!)

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda (fresh baking soda is the secret to great cookies, in my opinion)

2 eggs

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

 

  1. 1.     Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a separate bowl.
  2. 2.     In mixer, cream butter, sugars, peanut butter and vanilla extract.
  3. 3.     Add in eggs one at a time.
  4. 4.     Slowly pour dry mixture into mixer to cream with peanut butter mixture. Be sure not to overmix, but that they are combined.
  5. 5.     Scoop dough into small round balls ( I roll them between my palms, just for fun and the perfect shape)
  6. 6.     Dip ball into sugar and evenly coat with a thin layer of sugar before dropping ball onto cookie sheet.
  7. 7.     When all your dough is on the cookie sheet, take a small fork to imprint crisscross lines (apparently this technique is called “dipping tines”) across the top of the cookie.
  8. 8.     Place cookie sheet in oven (preheated to 350) and bake cookies for 10-12 minutes ( I love under-baked, warm cookies)
  9. 9.     Allow cookies to cool for at least 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  10. 10.   ENJOY!

 

Again, much thanks to Robyn from addapinch for providing the tools to bring my peanut butter inspiration to life! These are a new favorite in my house, and now I have the urge to bake some right now!

What is your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of en.wikipeida.org

second photo courtesy of babble.com

third photo courtesy of visualphotos.com

fourth photo(of my cookies) from my iPhone

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