Monday, June 9, 2014

The gift every Father needs...

 
Stumped on what to give your dad or husband this Father's Day? All men loves tool and gadgets. And it's expected that all dads know how to fix everything. So it's only fitting that you buy him the most awesome pocket tool - The Leatherman Super Tool 300 Pocket Tool. This fun, efficient gadget has 19 tools in 1. And is currently on sale on Amazon. Orginally $87, now $65.

And don't forget the protective cover - the Leatherman Sheath. Comes in brown or black for only $14.




Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wear it Wednesday: Too Taboo

The sun is showing it's face more and more and it's time to talk toenails. The beauty experts are encouraging us to be wild and bold in our picks this summer. The trends include intense colors of the rainbow; bold blues, vibrant oranges, electric greens. And my personal favorite - bright fuchsia.

Thank goodness for the fuchsia. Call me boring but I can't stomach looking down to a Kool-Aid color blue on my toes. To me a bright fuchsia screams confident. Put together. Classy but knows how to come out and play. A fuchsia manicure or pedicure looks great with everything from classic denim and navy to sleek black and is eye-catching on any skin tone.

Wondering what fuchsia hue has my attention? You better believe I'll be sporting this on my toes this summer.


 
 
Essie nail color is Too Taboo - part of the Essie Neon Collection.
 
 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Make It Monday: Margarita Chicken

 
Two things I love: margaritas and the crock pot (or slow cooker). Oh wait - chicken too! This Make it Monday post combines all three of those to make Margarita Chicken. And guess what? Your kids can not only eat it, they will love it too! No worries - there is no tequila in the recipe.

Thanks to Red Tricycle, I found this versatile, low fat chicken recipe from Crockpot Gourmet that you can serve over brown rice, couscous, quinoa or over a bed of greens with veggies and a citrus vinaigrette.

But let's talk crock pot though first. Four problems I see with the crock pot -

1) People don't use it enough. Hello....it's soooo easy. Throw in the ingredients (no thawing necessary), walk away and come back 4-8 hrs later to a homemade meal. Now why are you complaining about dinner again?!?!?

2) People think you have to be a "mom with kids" to use a crock pot. If you're single or a couple, just buy yourself a Food Saver and vacuum seal the leftovers. Note to moms; you too should do this. If you're already cooking, why not make a little more, vacuum seal the extra and wah-la you have yourself another meal on another night that will literally take seconds to heat up.

3) People associate "crock pot" with unhealthy. That's incredibly naïve. There are a gazillion recipes online and crock pot cookbooks that cater to people's dietary needs; vegetarian, low-carb, Paleo to name a few.

3) People think that once warm weather hits, that it's time to put the crock pot away. So not the case. Not all crock pot meals are cold weather soups and stews. In fact, there are several light, delicious summery meals that will save you from standing over the stove on a hot day.

Moral of the story - USE A CROCK POT. And make this meal. :)

Margarita Chicken
 
Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup limeade (frozen limeade works)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Mix rice, limeade, orange juice, water, garlic and cilantro in bottom of crock
  2. Add chicken to crock and sprinkle the top part that is not covered by liquid with the cayenne pepper and salt and pepper
  3. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours
Note: You may want to use an oval crock for this so the liquid not be as deep and the chicken will not be submerged.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Carb Cycling 101

 
Carb cycling. Hmmm. I'm intrigued. You? Most of you reading this have been brainwashed to think carbs are the devil. Not so. If you know anything about anything you know that there are good carbs and bad carbs. And the right balance of carbs, protein and fat is imperative for your overall health. Chris Powell, trainer from ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" swears by carb cycling to lose and maintain your optimal weight loss results. Powell explains that high carb days rev up your metabolism and low carb days maximize weight loss. The theory is that when your body keeps alternating between modes, you create the perfect balance to weight loss. So what is carb cycling? In the following paragraphs, you'll learn the basics of carb cycling, four different carb cycling plans - Easy, Classic, Turbo, and Fit - as well as the basics of how to execute this on a weekly basis.


What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is an eating plan with alternating high-carb and low-carb days. It’s that simple. It also has built-in reward days or reward meals (depending on the plan you’re following), so you can still eat your favorite foods on a regular basis. Sounds pretty much perfect, right?

While each plan has a different mix of high-carb and low-carb days, each day works basically the same:
  • Eat five meals—no more, no less.
  • Eat a high-carb breakfast that includes both protein and carbs within 30 minutes of waking.
  • Eat your remaining 4 meals - either high-carb or low-carb, depending on the plan you’re following - every 3 hours.
  • Choose approved foods (Click HERE for the printable food guide)
  • Drink a gallon of water.
How does it work?

In order to lose weight, our bodies need the right combination of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats. Here’s why:
  • Protein builds and maintains muscles and these muscles burn calories like an inferno. Protein also breaks down more slowly than carbs and fat, which burns even more calories and helps you feel fuller longer.
  • Carbs are the preferred fuel source for your muscles and organs, and they come in healthy versions (vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes), and not-so-healthy versions (cakes, cookies, soda, doughnuts, candy, and many processed foods).  Healthy carbs are also crucial for burning calories, and since they break down more slowly than those not-so-healthy carbs, they keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady, and they also keep your calorie-burning furnace hot so it burns more calories!
  • Healthy fats (unsaturated fats) eaten in moderation help the development and function of your eyes and brain and help prevent heart disease, stroke, depression, and arthritis. Healthy fats also help keep your energy levels steady and keep you from feeling hungry.
So why do we alternate high-carb and low-carb days in carb cycling? On high-carb days you’re stocking your calorie-burning furnace so that on low-carb days your furnace burns fat, and lots of it! This pattern tricks your metabolism into burning a lot of calories, even on those low-carb days. It’s an amazing and well-proven process.

For this plan, carbs are considered fruits, starches (such as bread and rice) and starchy vegetables (like peas and potatoes). Reach for non-starchy veggies (like broccoli, asparagus and spinach) all you want - they don't count toward the day's calories.

What are the benefits?

Carb cycling has many benefits:
  • It fits any lifestyle.
  • You’ll learn how to shed weight and body fat, and how to make smart lifestyle choices for the rest of your life. This puts YOU in control.
  • You’ll feel better and have more energy.
  • You’ll eat the foods you love.
  • You’ll build lean, strong muscles.
  • You’ll be empowered physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Your CARB CYCLING weekly plan:

In order to find your ideal Carb Cycling plan, click on the links below to learn more about Powell's four different Carb Cycling plans -

Easy Carb Cycle
Classic Carb Cycle
Turbo Carb Cycle
Fit Carb Cycle

Remember you'll eat five times each day from the approved food list above at three hour intervals. Each meal should be around 250 calories, not including non-starchy veggies for a total of about 1,250 calories daily. Have your first meal within 30 minutes of waking and drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of water daily to fire up your metabolic engine. And if you want to see results and don't have any excuse to deviate from the plan, prep meals on Sunday for the week ahead. Pre-cook your proteins, chop veggies and store everything in the refrigerator.

Get even more details on carb cycling in Powell's books Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution, and Choose More, Lose More for Life

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fashion Forward: Summers Do's & Don'ts


 
As we eagerly anticipate the season of fun and frivolity, it's time to prep our closets with some of summer's biggest fashion trends. Thanks to Glamour's online fashion section (author- Avery Matera), here are 11 summer fashion Do's and Don'ts:


DO go girly with a white lace top
You can dress up a white lace top with a skirt and heels or dress it down with denim shorts and sandals. Even try pairing it with moto boots and a leather jacket to turn the feminine piece into something more edgy.
 

DON'T underestimate the power of a T-shirt dress
The throw-on-and-go T-shirt dress is perfect for summer. Wear yours from day to night by transitioning into slightly fancier footwear and some fun accessories. Bonus: T-shirt dresses are easy to travel with - they rarely wrinkle and don't have to be dry-cleaned!

 

DO try a new sunglass silhouette
Whether it's round, cat-eye, oversize, or aviator, try a sunglass shape you've never tried before.
 

DON'T be afraid to show a little skin
Though it's more of a weekend look than one for work, the crop-top trend is wonderful for summer. Pair a loose version of the trend with a high-waisted bottom to avoid showing a little too much tummy.
 

DO add a pop of color
Find a brightly colored bag or shoes to pair with your wardrobe basics - it'll infuse a little summer into an otherwise neutral outfit.
 

DO try overalls
Overalls are no longer just for kids - they're a great way to update your shorts collection. Style them with anything from a button-down to a tank top. Most important, find a fit and length that flatters you.
 

DON'T wait until Memorial Day to wear white
And don't stop wearing white on Labor Day either. White is the ultimate summer neutral and feels so light and airy that you should try styling it head-to-toe once in a while.
 

DO invest in a dressier pair of shorts
They don't have to break the bank, but have a pair of shorts in a more tailored silhouette or non-denim fabric on hand. In the right cut and fabric, they can work for a casual office look or a dressy night out - just leave your denim cutoffs at home.
 

DON'T put your boots away
Just because it's summer doesn't mean that you can't wear boots anymore. Sure, they're heavier than a summer sandal, but they add a little edge to sweet summer shorts or a sundress.
 

DO make sure you have a classic white shirt
Summer is no exception for the classis button down. Basically, every outfit looks polished when you start with a crisp white shirt - you can even throw it over a bathing suit at the beach.
 

DO continue to layer
Layering isn't just for winter months and heavy clothing. Simply adding a T-shirt under a sundress or a button-down over a bustier is ideal for summer. Try this styling trick when you're totally bored with your favorite summer outfits.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How Bad Is It...

 
...to leave a charger plugged in when you aren't using it?

I am notorious for doing this. Along with the majority of you I'm sure. But I learned in HGTV magazine, that while it's not a fire or safety hazard to leave your cell phone, laptop or camera charger plugged in, it is a pretty big no no.

So what's the big deal? Count the number of chargers you have in your home. We have an iPad charger, a iPhone charger, and the Bose speaker charger all in the kitchen, We have a laptop charger on the desk and another in my husband's office. We have two iPhone chargers in our bedroom. That's seven chargers in a house with NO kids that have their own devices. Having just those devices plugged in 24/7 adds an extra $25 to my annual electric bill. Not a bank breaker but every dollar should count if you're being smart with your money.

Now consider that there are 130 million homes in the US. According to Paul Scheckel, author of The Homeowner's Energy Handbook, if each one of those houses has 10 chargers, we're collectively wasting billions of watts each year. It takes dozens of power plants spewing out smoke and emitting potentially harmful waste to produce that kind of energy.

Moral of the story: Although it may be a slight inconvenience, unplug your cord every time you are done powering up your device. If that's just too much of a hassle, invest in a power strip that you can quickly switch off whenever you don't need your charger.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday Challenge: DVD Organization


Looking for a perfect Spring cleaning project that can involve your kids that will get you organized for summer? While we all have high hopes that we'll check off a fun activity on the summer bucket list everyday, let's be real - there are going to be days, no matter how hot it is outside, that you're going to want to plop them in front a movie to shut them up for a solid 2 hours. Which is why this project is a must if you're feeling like your DVD, music  and/or video game collection is out of control.

Now normally involving the kids in any sort of organizational project is a total nightmare but let's attempt to make this fun. First corral the kids and tell them to make a big pile of all the DVD's. Explain to them that they are to make two piles; ones they watch and ones they don't. Do NOT tell them upfront that the movies in the "don't watch" pile are going to be given away. Kids tend to become hoarders then. After the two piles are sorted, tell them they are going to donate the "don't watch" movies to kids less fortunate. Hint: good teaching moment here. ;)

Have the kids then dump the donate pile into a bag, load into the car for you and their work is done.

As for the remaining favorites, head to the Container Store or buy online the 120-disc acrylic storage box. The innovative design of this media organizer holds a whopping 120 CDs or DVDs (without cases) in a small amount of space. The stackable box features channels that suspend colorful hanging sleeves that protect discs from scratches.  It includes 60 double-sided sleeves in six colors but additional storage sleeves are available (sold separately).

Once you have the storage box, toss the plastic cases and slip the discs into the sleeves. File them alphabetically and then tuck the box away or display on a side shelf since its so cute and organized.

And if you want to add movie day to the summer bucket list, take it to the next level and make it "Mimosas and Movies." My girlfriend does this and I think it's brilliant. Make it a playdate. Invite over your girlfriend and her kids. While they watch, you sip a mimosa and get some girl time. Cheers!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Food Friday: Spaghetti with Kale Pesto

 
Wondering how to incorporate kale - the health world's favorite dark, leafy green of 2014 - into your diet beyond kale chips and green smoothies? Here is a twist on spaghetti that will pump some serious vitamins into an average everyday meal.

~Spaghetti with Kale Pesto~
Recipe from Dr. Oz's "The Good Life" magazine

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

8 oz. kale (Tuscan if available), stemmed, leaves torn (5 cups loosely packed leaves)
1 clove garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cups raw almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
6 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz whole wheat spaghetti

Directions:

> Add the kale, garlic, Parmesan, almonds, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Slowly add the olive oil with the machine running. Pulse until the mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth.

> Cook the pasta in salted water. Drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water.

> Add 3/4 cup pesto (any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for at least a week) and 2 Tbsp pasta water to a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add pasta and toss until thoroughly coated, adding more pasta water by tablespoon if necessary to form a creamy sauce.

>Enjoy!!

 
Did you know? Kale is being called “the new beef,” “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” Here are ten great benefits of adding more kale to your diet:

1. Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.

2. Kale is high in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.

3. Kale is high in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.

5. Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.

6. Kale is great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.

7. Kale is high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.

8. Kale is high in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.

9. Kale is high in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility

10. Kale is a great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Digital Savings 101

 
Did you know that 96.8 million adults will use digital coupons this year? Are you one of them? Normally I am not but my mom recently turned me on to RetailMeNot.com. If I'm not shopping on Amazon, I'll always search the store on Retail Me Not prior to purchasing to see if they have a valid promo code to save a little extra.

Wondering where to look? The Internet can be a treasure trove when it comes to getting the most for your money. Thanks to Family Circle magazine, Denise Winston, author of Money Starts Here! Your Practical Guide to Survive and Thrive in Any Economy, and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, these recommended sites are the best to bookmark for bargains on food, fun and more.

CouponBlender.com
At this gateway to savings, you'll see dozens of deals at a glance from the top couponing destinations (the homepage is constantly updated with a slew of news feeds). Each of the featured sites includes a range of shopping categories, so you can snag coupons for groceries as well as your teen's favorite mall store from the same page.

PriceGrabber.com
Got your eye on a leather handbag or that space-saving coffeemaker? Find product details, where-to-buy info and current sales prices for everything on your wish list and shave costs by an average of 20% to 25% on clothing, appliances, electronics and home goods. Set up an alert so you'll be notified when a certain item hits the price you've named.

MyGroceryDeals.com
Pocket some dough while filling your food cart. Make a shopping list and then search locally for those products with the "Quick Shop" option, which can save you up to 50% by culling rock-bottom prices from various stores.

Travelzoo.com
If you need some inspiration for a budget getaway, Travelzoo's e-newsletter, This Week's Top 20, gleans great deals on flights, hotels, trip packages and cruises with the help of more than 2,000 travel and entertainment companies. All recommendations have been expert-tested to ensure they're first-rate.

Restaurant.com
Buy certificates at reduced prices to more than 18,000 restaurants nationwide and you can enjoy more family dinners out (and date nights too) without groaning over the tab. Search by name, location or cuisine to find exactly what you're craving.

GiftCardGranny.com
We've all been given gift cards we'll never use. Sell them to Granny and then buy discounted ones (most are more than 10% cheaper than current value) for the stores you love. Sign up to be alerted when a card at one of your preferred vendors becomes available.

Dealery.com
No time to skim local daily deal sites? No problem. Let a newsletter do the work. Create one by choosing your favorite sites from the many offered here (LivingSocial, Groupon and Woot, for example) and you'll be sent a list of bargains. Discounts are available in more than 200 cities.

RetailMeNot.com
It's the place to go for printable coupons and online promotional codes. On average you can save about $20 per transaction with discounts for chains like Macy's and Target as well as local boutiques.

MrFreeStuff.com
Subscribers receive information on samples and giveaway contests in addition to deals and coupons several times a week. What's not to love?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Beating the Belly Blues

 
Hello again!!!! My apologizes for going MIA on y'all. I thought I would give myself some grace during the transition from two to four kids...overnight. We are nothing but overjoyed with the addition of our identical twin girls, Reese and Rio, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it's friggin' HARD work!!! There is nothing like doing multiple babies at ONE time. On top of attending to two active boys, ages 5 and just turned 3. It is anything but quiet around my hood.

Today however, I did have some time while my angels are napping and my boys are at school. I thought I'd log onto the blog and see what's shakin. Surprisingly, you're all still giving Hailey's Helpful Hints some love despite my absence. In fact - my one post "Tame the Tum - Spare Tire or Stress Bulge?" continues to get blown up on Pinterest! Who would have thought 4,946,000 people would be interested in such an article?? And no that's not a typo - 4 MILLION+ peeps. I too am shocked. And so thankful for the readers!!

So as I sat here thinking about what to blog on, I figured it's only appropriate to provide some helpful tips on something you all interested in - belly fat and bloating!

Sadly belly fat doesn’t just innocently sit under your skin and force you to loosen your belt another notch. It lives deep in your body, around your organs. And according to Dr. Oz, that deep fat is a troublemaker. It cranks out hormones and proteins that can trigger chronic inflammation and raise your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even colon cancer.

Did you know?

You need to eat fat to lose fat. It’s time to stop being fat-phobic and start focusing on getting the right fats. Eating healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - those are the types found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts - may trim what’s around your middle. One study found that people who got 25% of their daily calories from healthy fats gained less belly fat than people who ate fewer healthy fats.

Belly fat hates whole grains. That’s why you should love them. Refined grains like white pasta and white rice tend to feed a muffin top and may increase your risk for problems like diabetes, too. But eating whole grains like quinoa, barley, and whole wheat pasta might boost weight loss. In one study, people who included whole grains in their diets lost nearly eight pounds in 12 weeks, while refined-grain eaters lost only about six.

Belly fat thrives on stress. When the pressure's on, your body produces the "stress hormone" cortisol, which makes fat pile up around your midsection. Pretty discouraging when are surrounded by stress all day, everyday. Try these instant calmers and start getting stress under control in as little as 60 seconds.

Are you one of the many that wake up with a flat belly only to find that by the end of the day your stomach looks like you are 6 months pregnant? Ugh, isn't that the worst?? So many women are misled that they need to get on the floor and bust out 1,000 sit-ups. Not the case. According to gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan, below is a step by step plan - that you can start today - to eliminate hidden causes of tummy trouble and beat your bloat in the kitchen.
 
Step 1: Start your day with an anti-bloat elixir - Many people are jinxing themselves right off the bat by reaching for bagels or sugary cereals first thing in the morning. These foods clog up your system and set you up for day-long gas buildup. Instead, get your system moving right away by blending together this fiber-rich elixir that helps food move through your digestive tract.
Aim to get 25 grams or more of fiber a day, but if you normally eat a low-fiber diet, start slow and gradually increase the amount. If you notice a little extra bloating at first, don't be deterred – most people's bodies will adjust to increased amounts of fiber over time.

Step 2: Supersize your lunch - Many people eat their biggest meal at dinner, but eating too late at night can cause a log jam in your gut. To help beat bloat, you should enjoy a three-course lunch instead. Make sure your lunch includes about 10 grams of fiber to help keep your food moving. Here's a good example of a fiber-rich, delicious lunch option:
  • First course: Salad (add in all your favorite veggies and a light dressing)
  • Main course: Grilled fish with sweet potato and a cup of steamed broccoli
Step 3: Eat a finely chopped dinner and avoid leftovers - Now that you've had your supersize lunch, go for a one-course, easy-to-digest dinner. Big meals and big bites can be hard for our bodies to digest in the evening. Chopped food can facilitate digestion and leaves less empty space trapped in the belly. A bowl of chopped chicken, veggies and rice is a great option.
The second dinner rule is no eating leftovers. You may think you're doing yourself a favor by bringing home your leftover food for later meals, but allowing certain starches like pasta, rice and potatoes to cool and then reheating them can change their molecular structure and make them more likely to plug up your colon and cause significant discomfort.

Step 4:  Cut out dairy - Unfortunately, to say goodbye to bloat, you may have to say goodbye to dairy as well. At some point in their lives, nearly 75% of people experience lactose intolerance, which may be permanent or temporary. A little bit of lactose intolerance can contribute a lot to bloat.
Here are some easy swaps for dairy lovers:
  • Drink almond milk instead of cow's milk in your coffee, cereal, or smoothies
  • Try coconut-milk ice cream instead of regular ice cream
  • Try vegan cheese instead of normal cheese
It's important to make sure you're still getting plenty of calcium in your diet, but you have plenty of non-dairy options. Among them are salmon, sardines, mineral water, oranges, almond milk, sesame seeds and many nuts.

Bonus tip: Try fennel seeds - If you need a quick remedy for sudden bloat, try fennel seeds. They help melt away gas bubbles and only cost pennies a pinch. Try chewing a half-teaspoon before every meal.

You can read more about busting bloat in Dr. Chutkan's book, Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage.