Monday, February 28, 2011

Question: How do I get rid of the unpleasant smell in my washing machine?

Over the past five years, front loading washing machines have gained some serious momentum in the United States. They are designed for high efficiency operation while using low energy. Although a great eco-friendly concept, there is a down side to this energy-saving washer model - mold & mildew build-up and unpleasant odors. Once present, these issues can be quite difficult to resolve.

After my laundry post, a reader asked how to get rid of that moldy smell emitting from her washer. If you have a front loader, you too may be experiencing the same thing. Before I give you the mold prevention tips, I think it's first important to identify the source of the problem. Unfortunately the main source of the problem is most likely your washing habits. Do you leave wet loads sitting overnight? How full do you pack your washer? Do you always shut the door? Do you run a cleaning cycle? A musty smell is caused by a build-up of interior mold. Mold that can be prevented if you're willing to change up your washing routine.

Solutions to prevent mold and mildew:

1) Switch to using only an HE (high efficiency) detergent. In doing my research most would agree POWDER is best. Standard detergent produces more suds than high efficiency detergents, and suds decrease the efficacy of the washer's drainage system. This creates the humid environment mold needs.

2) Use less than the recommended detergent level for your load and do not overload your washer. Too much detergent can cause a residue build-up. Experiment until you find a minimum measurement that delivers a clean wash. This is also a money saver.

3) Stop using liquid fabric softener and switch to fabric softener sheets in the dryer. Liquid fabric softener leaves a residue on which odor-causing mold and mildew may grow; sheets do not.

4) Occasionally wash some loads such as whites, linen and towels in hot water to help flush out wash residue. The warm water kills off the bacteria.

5) Clean out the basin and rubber seal. First wipe the inside of the washer, especially the area where the door seals to the inside. Mold can collect around the insides and folds of the rubber seals. Get in there and make sure you cleaned it all. You could use bleach, Simple Green, Vinegar or Pinesol. Make sure to pull back the gasket/rubber seal just inside the door opening and remove any visible debris. Last week I found a disgusting black, gooey layer that had built-up in no time along with a lost sock and clumps of hair. Eww.

6) Leave the door and dispenser slightly ajar between wash loads. This will decrease the mold build-up as it allows the tub to dry completely. The increased air circulation will help to dispel humid air in the washer cavity.

7) Remove clothing as soon as the washing cycle is finished. NEVER leave a wet load overnight as this is a breeding ground for mold.

8) If you notice a pool of water inside the basin after you take out the wet load, use a rag or paper towel to soak up any left over water. The washer's horizontal-oriented wash tub has a tendency to leave water within the appliance.

9) Run the front-loading washer's self-cleaning cycle, if the washer model includes this feature, every four weeks. The cleaning cycle circulates hot water through the washer's system and helps clean its tubing and drainage outlets, where material that can contribute to odors collects.

10) If washer does not have a self-cleaning cycle, use vinegar to clean the washer every four weeks or sooner. Add 2 to 3 cups of plain white vinegar to your washer's dispenser cup. Run a hot water cycle. The white vinegar sterilizes and cleans the washer, neutralizing odors along the way.


Sunday, February 27, 2011


In celebration of the re-launch of Piper Designs - - we baked our favorite cake this week; Diet Funfetti Pop Cake (or soda depending on what part of the country you are from). Ever made a cake with a can of pop/soda? Most haven't. And yes, it's possible. My sister and I discovered this recipe several years ago. I believe it originated from Weight Watchers. Ever since this monumental discovery, I've never made a cake any different. Why would I?? This is beyond simple and just as good (if not better) than the full fat version.

Dying to know how to make this cake? Go to the store and buy any boxed cake mix of your choice and a can of diet pop. That's it. No eggs. No oil. Just those TWO ingredients. Trust me. IT WORKS!!!!!

~Diet Pop Cake~

In a bowl, mix the dry cake mix and one can of pop with a hand-mixer.
Mix until lumps are gone.
Pour mixture in greased 13x9 cake pan (or cupcake pan).
Bake as directed on the box.

My tried and true tips for delicious combinations:
  • You can't go wrong with Diet Cream Soda. It works well with any cake mix. Cream Soda can be hard to find. I usually have the most luck at Target. If you can't find Cream Soda, Diet Rootbeer is second best. A&W brand is hands down the best.

  • You can't tell a difference between Diet and Regular so why consume more calories than you have to. Use DIET.

  • If you have a light dry cake mix, you want to use a light colored soda. Funfetti or Rainbow Chip is best with Diet Cream Soda. If you use Rootbeer, just be prepared that your cake when baked will have a light brown tinge.

  • Lemon and Diet 7-Up goes well together.

  • Chocolate and Diet Rootbeer or Diet Dr. Pepper taste delicious together.

  • Diet Coke doesn't seem to taste as good in any cake because of it's saltiness.
So there you go. Diet Cake. Now you can have your cake and eat it too!! I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note. xo

Friday, February 25, 2011


Today's Fancy Friday post is a personal plug for my company, Piper Designs - . I'm always raving about other company's products, I thought it was time to get you hooked on mine. A little over a year ago I started Piper Designs as strictly a kid's terry cloth company. My exclusive line of products consisted of bath robes, bath and beach towels, washcloths, burp rags and baby bibs. Although adorable, I was unfortunately unsatisfied with the manufacturers I was working with so I took some time to revamp Piper Designs' product line.

I knew I wanted the future of Piper Designs to be a reflection of my simplistic style but didn't know what direction I wanted to take. I knew I didn't want to be like the million other super chic, trendy children's companies selling overpriced, impractical merchandise. As I looked at my son in his running shoes, denim jeans and zip hooded sweatshirt pressed up against my matching ensemble of Converse tennis shoes, jeans, and a zip hoodie - my idea was born! Department stores are filled with the latest trends tattooed with obnoxious graphics, trendy frills and expensive price tags. But what about the everyday, wearable essentials? A comfy zip hood in fun colors? An affordable workout top? Capitalizing on the need for a basics company for all ages, my hope is to bring you stylish yet practical everyday apparel and accessories that are easy to care for and wearable for your everyday outings.

So without further ado, I want to introduce you to Piper Designs current line of lifestyle wear that delivers superb function, fit and affordability. We will be adding new products throughout the different seasons and will offer a Monthly Special so please check back frequently. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, the March Special is a women's zip hood in light green. A playful color for spring you won't find in department stores!!

In my efforts to give back, every time you make a purchase through our website, Piper Designs will make a donation on your behalf to World Vision to help the world's most vulnerable children and families in need of the most basic essentials.

Leonardo DaVinci onces said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." I hope you enjoy the simplistic style Piper Designs offers. Have a great weekend and if something tickled your fancy this week, I'd love to hear!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Target Addict: Should you say Yes to Carrots??

I overheard a women telling her friend that she loves the new 'YES TO CARROTS' line recently added to the shelves at Target. Having never heard of the line, I spent some time dissecting the packaging and ingredients.

I can almost guarantee that at some point growing up your mother yelled at you to "eat your carrots" because they were supposedly good for you. Guess what? She was right. Go figure. It's no secret that orange fruits and vegetables contains beta-carotene that serves as a good agent for anti-oxidants and anti-aging. It helps to reduce damage caused by sun and air pollutants. Yes to Carrots also has Dead Sea Mud which contains 26 different minerals. With the combination of these minerals and beta-carotene, the product line is extremely beneficial to allow the body soak up nutrients, hence, revitalizing and rejuvenating it.

Where I have some beef with this line is that their website claims their products "combine fresh, unadulterated goodness of organic fruits and vegetables." Come on, does everything have to include the buzz word of the century - aka "organic" - to get bought these days?? While it’s true that their formulas contain lots of natural goodies, they don’t bother to mention that the functional ingredients in their products are the same tried and true chemicals used in other mass market beauty products. For example, their shower gel is based on sodium coceth sulfate (a cleanser) and cocamide DEA (a foam booster/thickener). While I have no problem with brands that like to convey a certain look, feel, and scent by using natural ingredients, I don’t like being mislead to by companies that claim to use the “unadulterated goodness of organic fruits and vegetables” but don’t tell you they include chemicals like propanediol and benzyl alcohol in their formulations.
Would I buy? Probably not. Its prices are somewhat expensive and in my opinion, just another brand trying to capitalize on the naturals/organics trend by hiding standard cosmetics ingredients behind an over-hyped soup of fruit and vegetable extracts.

If you feel so inclined to try, I do appreciate that they smell great, are not tested on animals, and it has an extensive line of face, body and hair products. The products are good for both men and women which is a positive for a minimalist like myself that hates excess products lying around. They also include a baby line to keep it all in the family.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Organization should have been my middle name. I love it. Anything I can have to make my life easier, you better believe I'm all about it. Growing up we had a battery drawer. Over time this once organized battery drawer accumulated other items; hammer, screwdriver, calculators, phone chargers. It drove me bananas to have to dig and dig only to realize that we were out of the particular battery I needed. My mom knowing this was such a hot button of mine, gave me a battery organizer a few years ago. Talk about getting old when you get excited about receiving a battery organizer as a gift! All you moms know that if you have children, you go through a lot of batteries. With the battery organizer, all of my batteries are in one place for instant accessibility and I know exactly what my inventory is at all time.

This particular Battery Rack Organizer can be used in a drawer, on a shelf or mounted to a wall. A built-in battery tester helps you determine the remaining strength of a battery's charge. It holds 46 batteries: C, D, AA, AAA and 9-volt sizes and it includes two adapters to store up to 14 AA batteries

You can find it here at Organize It for only $13.99 or at the Container Store for $19.99. It's so worth the money!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Question: What's the BEST SELF-TANNER?

Ever wonder how being "tan" became so popular? Well here 'ya go. Back in the 1920's CoCo Chanel went on a Mediterranean vacation and came home with the hottest new fashion accessory - a "tan." As a trendsetter and female icon of the time, women went ga-ga over CoCo's golden glow. The result: An increased consumption of baby oil and sunbathing as a mainstream past-time. As the years passed, skin cancer sadly struck and wrinkles became an issue. The result: The birth of Coppertone's first sunless tanner in 1960. A genius idea but far from perfect.

My adolescent years were spent in a perpetual quest to stay tan all year. Growing up in Washington where the sun shines all of about two months, I made exceptions for my orange streaky ankles and dark knee caps just to have that year round sunkissed look. My bathroom cabinet was stock-piled with 1/2 used bottles of sub par sunless tanners. Sadly I never found one that did the trick before I completely gave up on them. The technology since then however has come full circle. Manufacturers have improved their formulas and that horrendous smell and we can now soothe, hydrate and even restore elasticity while getting a golden, natural glow without the harmful UV effects.

Last week a reader asked if I could recommend the best self-tanner. Based on my research, here are a list of the top self-tanners from steep to cheap that won't fail you:


Steep: In 1984, Guerlain of Paris created the first bronzing powder they called "Terracotta Sunless Self-Tanning Balm ($50)." Although expensive, it's still one of the best spray tanners on the market. Its delicate iridescence and slight bronze tint give immediate gratification, and its rich oils leave your legs silky (but not sticky). Found at Nordstroms, Saks, Dillards, Sephora, and many other places, you can order online or make an in-store pick-up.

Middle of the road: I, along with, believe the Clarin's Self Tanning Instant Gel ($30) gives you the most natural day-at-the-beach coloring. It's clear, but its viscosity lets you feel exactly where you missed any spots. Four hours later, you won't see a streak in sight.

Cheap: Everything about the Neutrogena Sun Fresh Sunless Foam ($10) formula is featherlight: The mousse melts into skin in seconds drying quickly, it doesn't streak, and the grapefruit and nectarine fragrance smelled crisp and clean. If you have darker skin, you should opt for the medium/deep product because you may not notice a tan if you opt for the fair/medium. Available at most drugstores.


Steep: The authors of "Total Beauty," gave Clarins Radiance-Plus Self Tanning Cream-Gel for the Face ($52) 8.13 points out of 10 - the highest rating for all their tested self tanners. Why did they like it? It's light, has a pleasant smell and lasts a couple days. Its non-comedogenic formula means it won't block pores, irritate skin or cause pimples. It creates an even, radiant tan and perks up the most lacklustre of complexions. Available at major department stores.

Middle of the road: A bit pricier than M.A.C. and other bronzers on the market, testers found that Laura Mercier's Bronzing Gel ($32) is worth the price. The company suggests dabbing a bit on AFTER tinted moisturizer and BEFORE powders. This bronzer provides a "just tanned" look with a touch of rose. Warms the skin and adds a spark of shimmer. Available at Nordstrom.

Cheap: I am hesitant to recommend some cheap-o product to go on the face. After all, you can't cover it up so with that said, I recommend a less expensive option - Origins Faux Glow Radiant Self-Tanner for the Face ($19.50). This face tanner creates an instant coulda-fooled-me fake-tan. And the tinted formula delivers instant beautification. Shows what you’ve done and still need to do. Rosemary and Orange soothe skin. Color shows smoothly, swiftly - never turns streaky, stripe-y or some sweet potato tone. Sun-craved skin looks and feels pretty pleased, remarkably radiant for days. The added perk: the refreshing aroma of Peppermint. Available at Macys.

Don't want to commit? Then try Victoria's Secret Beach Sexy Flawless Airbrush Instant Bronze Body Spray ($12). This is not, technically, a self-tanner. Its aerosol mist instantly bronzes your legs, but it washes right off in the shower. You'll get the best results when you hold the can about a foot from your legs, keep your hand moving as you spray, and blend a bit afterward

Wondering about self-tanning towelettes? If you're going to try, don't waste your money on anything other than The Tan Towel. Tan Towel Self-Tan Towelettes are tiny, totable pouches — perfect for carrying in your purse or overnight bag when you need a simple touch-up or desperately need to cover tan lines. When you rub a wipe over your skin, it darkens within two to four hours. Because it’s hard to control the amount of tanning solution that’s being applied, reviewers say Tan Towels are better for smaller spot applications rather than for the whole body. Although the most highly rated amongst towelettes, many users complain about this product’s sketchy coverage — it has a tendency to streak, especially when applied to large areas. Available at Nordstrom, Sephora, and

Looking for a moisturizing lotion that will give you a gradual glow? The best on the market is Jergen's Natural Glow. At $5 this is a steal! Its simple, non-sticky formula and non-streaking, even application makes this a hit with consumers. Because this product is diluted with lotion, users say that it doesn’t smell as strongly as other sunless tanners (which are known to emit chemical odors). Jergens Natural Glow also comes in two tanning shades, enabling users to better match their skin tone. Found at your local drugstore, this is an easy find!

3 step process on how to self-tan the body:

1) Start by exfoliating skin with a body scrub in the shower paying special attention to rough areas including knees and elbows (dry skin absorbs higher concentrations of tanner). Shave before you tan. InStyle suggests using a body oil, instead of shaving cream, when shaving.

2) Rub Vaseline on cuticles and nails. This protects your manicure and keeps fingertips and nails from staining.

3) Apply tanner limb by limb, starting with your legs. Apply over the shin and calf of a leg, sweeping tanner down over your ankle, foot and toes. Then apply tanner to your thigh from front to back, using the excess to cover your knee. Repeat on your other leg. For the final step, apply tanner to your hips, stomach and torso, following with your shoulders and arms. Wait 10 minutes to dry before dressing and avoid any excessive activity that will make you sweat for at least a few hours. If your tan hasn't set, sweat could cause streaking.

Bonus tips: To remove tanner from palms, without washing off product from the tops of your hands, rub palms along a wet washcloth, making sure to get in between fingers.

4 step process on how to self-tan the face:

1) Pull hair up in a ponytail before you start so you don't miss any parts. Prep skin by gently cleansing and exfoliating. Skip moisturizer, which may interfere with the tanner.

2) Apply under-eye cream. You want the color of your skin to be lighter under the eyes, it makes you look younger.

3) Blend a few drops of self-tanner and equal parts moisturizer in the palm of your hand then apply over face and neck. You only want to go one shade darker than your natural color.

4) Let color develop for three hours then follow up with a sweep of bronzer on forehead, cheeks and nose: areas where the sun naturally shines.

Don't forget: Smooth remaining tanner over earlobes and upper ears. Wash hands thoroughly. Don't skip the sunscreen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Motivating Monday: ONE DAY CHALLENGE

Last week a Facebook post caught my attention. The post headline from Modern Moms read, "8 Things to Stop Doing Just for One Day." I thought it was so freeing and empowering, I wanted to share with you. Give it a try. One day isn't going to kill you. And remember, now is better than never.

1. Stop nagging!
Try not to nag your kids or your husband about what they should be doing or what they're doing wrong. Instead, focus on the positive and compliment them for what they are doing right. This may just give you a whole new perspective on your attitude.

2. Stop eating processed foods
We all know processed foods are bad for us, but we eat them anyway. Try - just for one whole day -to go without this junk. Just to prove that you can.

3. Stop smoking or drinking
We're not asking you to cut it out of your life all together, but if you do happen to smoke or enjoy a daily glass of wine - try going without it for just one day. You may surprise yourself in realizing you don't really need it.

4. Stop holding a grudge
A University of Tennessee-Knoxville study found that when you're willing to let things go, you can lower your blood pressure and improve the condition of your heart. So, let go of any lingering resentment just for one day and you may even make it a habit to forgive and forget!

5. Stop procrastinating
Don't put this one off till next month. Think of how accomplished you'd feel if you got things done right away instead of worrying and fretting over it for days, weeks or months at a time. Leavings things undone just creates more work for you in the end.

6. Stop saying yes when you feel like saying no!
A big one for me! We all have too much going on in our lives as it is, so don't feel pressured into doing something you really don't want to do. It's empowering to say no once in a while!

7. Stop carrying around an oversized purse
While you may be able to fit your entire life (and family) into your ginormous tote, it's definitely not good for your health. A bag that weighs over 10 pounds puts strain on your neck and shoulders, which leaves you susceptible to injury. Instead, try a smaller bag made of lighter material and only put things in it that you absolutely need that day. If you can't bear to part with your oversized purse, then at least, alternate the shoulder on which you carry the bag.

8. Stop checking Email/Facebook/Twitter
Let yourself feel the weight lifting off your shoulders as you unplug yourself - for just one day. The world will go on without you, trust me. And, while we're at it...give texting a rest, too. Ahhh...doesn't your best friend's voice sound so lovely?

Cheers to a productive week ahead filled with love and laughter!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet Sunday

For those of you that know me well, you know that I'm a recipe substitute'r. Whenever possible, I will mix up the ingredients to make it as low fat as possible. No oils. No butter. Fat free milk. Egg substitute. I'll admit they don't always turn out the greatest and I don't usually give them to the neighbors but my husband 9 times out of 10 loves them. And poor Chase - well he doesn't know any different. ;)

Now I know the words "fat free" and "desserts" don't usually go hand-in-hand but trust me on this one - this recipe is delici-o-so! Spritz with some Spray Butter and heat in the micro for a few seconds and you'll be going back for seconds.

~Fat Free Banana Bread~


1/3 c. sugar-free applesauce

3/4 c. light brown sugar

3 egg whites (3/4 c. of egg substitute)

3-4 bananas

1/3 c. water

1 2/3 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

Non-fat PAM cooking spray

*If you want to add some fat, add 1/4 c. chopped nuts and/or 1/4 c. of chocolate chips


1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2) Mash bananas (can be as pureed or chunky as you wish)

3) In a bowl, mix applesauce and sugar

4) Stir in eggs, bananas and water

5) Spray loaf pan with Pam cooking spray and pour batter into pan

6) Bake for 55-60 minutes

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, February 18, 2011


Last weekend my sweet girlfriend Jodie, who knows me all too well, gave me personalized note cards from Paper Culture as a gift for baby Lance (our soon-to-be #2 in 8 week. Eeeek!) Talk about instant obsession. Nothing speaks to my heart more than simplicity and modern design. Paper Culture accomplishes both! How didn't I know about this fabulous stationary company sooner?? They have everything from holiday cards to birth announcements; baby showers to graduation invites. Their minimalistic design makes me smile.

What's even more spectacular about this company is that they plant a tree in your honor for EVERY order and all their cards and envelopes are 100% post-consumer recycled. Love that. They are packed inside a die-cut box made from 100% recycled materials as well. Thoroughly eco-friendly and simply mah-velous.
So there you have it. I was tickled pink this week by a box of note cards. I'm telling ya' it's the little things in this life that mean the most. Now it's your turn - tell me what tickled YOUR fancy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


There's something about Martha Stewart that bugs the living daylights out of me but I will give it to the lady, she's magnetic when it comes to anything "home." Macy's home department has bought into the Martha Stewart empire and is advertising that you too should "Buy into the magic of Martha." As I was browsing for bedding ideas, I came across a fantastic way to spend more quality time with your kids - invite them into the kitchen! Sound like a messy situation you'd rather not entertain? With what I found at Macy's, you just might re-think that...

My son is all about baking these days. "Cooooo-kieeees" to be exact. It's a love/hate relationship in our house. We want to encourage his creativity and love the excitement but despise the temptation the cookies bring. Especially while I'm plopped on the couch engulfed in a mindless episode of The Bachelor. But these awesome kid's cooking/baking sets now make it possible to brings little chefs to life and that's more fulfilling to me as a mom than a little mess I'll have to clean up. Cooking or baking is a great way to entertain kids on a rainy day and a fun gift idea especially if you paired one of these sets with a Kid's Cookbook or an apron. I just love that they carry all the essential tools they can actually use in a real kitchen - not just the flimsy pretend ones.

Love the idea of getting your kids more involved in the kitchen? Hurry over to and take advantage of their President's Day sale going on NOW. Orginally $29.99, all three of these kits are on sale for 50% until Monday, 2/21/11. Bonus: Enter in the code PRESIDENT at check-out and get an additional 10% off.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Everyone needs a go to salad. One that's fancy enough to serve at a dinner party but one that your kids will still eat too. No matter how many times I make this salad, I never get sick of it. I love it's versatility. There are a million ways to get creative with it and still have it taste equally as delicious. For me, it's the balsamic dressing that makes it though. Yes, it's homemade but so so easy. It even tastes good drizzled on chicken breasts.

~ Balsamic Spinach Salad ~

Ingredients for Salad:
2 packages of fresh Spinach leaves
3/4 cup pre-chopped nut of your choice - Toasted Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds or Pine nuts are best.
3/4 cup dried Cranberries - Craisins work great and if you don't like Craisins, you could omit for Dates or Raisins.
1/2 cup crumbled cheese of your choice - Goat, Feta, Gorgonzola or Blue. I prefer Feta.
Optional: Apples, Grapes, Rasberries, Pears, Celery, Cucumber, Red Onions, Croutons.

Ingredients for Dressing:
2/3 cup Olive Oil
6 TBS. Sugar
4 TBS. Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar - I love Balsamic Vinegar so much that in all my times of making this, I've never used Red Wine Vinegar.
2 TBS. Sour Cream - Low fat or fat free taste equally as good.
1 tsp. Dijon or Honey Mustard


In a bowl, combine all Salad ingredients. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the Dressing ingredients; shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss. Serve immediately.

Caution - Once the dressing is on the salad, it does not save well. I advice if you are only having the salad alone, to put the desired spinach amount in a bowl and drizzle the dressing over that one serving. Then save the salad and dressing for another day. The dressing stays good for a few days in the refrigerator. It will get hard but all you have to do is shake it and let it sit at room temp. for a few minutes.

If I were to make this salad tonight, I would make it as follows: Spinach, no nuts, Dates, crumbled Feta cheese, Celery, Pears, and Herb Garlic Croutons with Balsamic Dressing. Yummmm!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Everyday this week I am going to highlight something random that I love. Let's start this off with a few power packed, butt-kicking at home workouts that will get you results. If you've been needing alitte motivation and finding "you" time is an issue, these will be your saving grace.

1) Jillian Michael's "30 Day Shred" - HUGE FAN of this DVD!!! Who doesn't have 30 minutes!?!?! Well it's actually only 20 minutes. Even better. ;) For only $10, you can get whipped into shape with the celebrity trainer from the hit series "Biggest Loser,"Jillian Michaels. She bases her "no-nonsense workout on the 3-2-1 method: 3 mins strength, 2 mins cardio, 1 min abs. In just this short video, you will feel like you've spent an hour in the gym. You will need free weights, anywhere from 3-10 lbs.

Want more from Jillian Michaels? Check out her series of workout DVD's here. "No More Trouble Zones" is also one I highly recommend.

2) The Firm's "Calorie Explosion" - Fat doesn't stand a chance with this video! Calorie Explosion lets you customize routines to meet your fat-blasting goals as well as your schedule. Choose a quick individual routine, mix two or three...or perform the entire workout (48 minutes) for a maximum calorie burn. The only at home equipment you will need are some free weights, anywhere from 3-10 lbs. You have the option to customize your butt-kicking workout any time of the day for only $13.99:

12-minute Kick-Butt Athletic Drills
12-minute Explosive Power Moves
12-minute Cardio Kickboxing
12-minute High-Intensity Moves

Love The Firm DVD's? Check out their entire collection here. I highly recommend "The 500 Calorie Workout" as well.

3) Jackie Warner's "Power Circuit Training" - Work out with celebrity trainer and television star of the hit show "Work Out," Jackie Warner. Her Beverly Hills gym, Sky Sport & Spa, is known for sculpting some of Hollywood’s best bodies. Her renowned circuit training workouts command up to $400 per hour. Now you can shed unwanted pounds, decrease body fat, sculpt amazing abs, and tone to reshape your entire body in the privacy of your home for only $10! The Power Circuit Training video includes five powerful workout options for real body-changing results. You choose your workout:

15-Minute Total Body Circuit
40-Minute Total Body Circuit
15-Minute Abs Only Circuit
15-Minute Upper Body Circuit
15-Minute Lower Body Circuit

Monday, February 14, 2011


Happy Valentine's Day to you all! I {heart} you all and am overjoyed with the love you give to Hailey's Helpful Hints. One thing that is especially on my heart lately is keeping life in perspective and trying not to stress over the little things. We are surrounded by "stuff" and influenced so easily with an overload of information. I was especially reminded of this after I received an email from my dad on Friday. Along with the forwarded message, he wrote "Let your kids be kids and just enjoy life." This came at such a fitting time for me. Ironically I was just having lunch with my husband talking about the day to day pressures of life - the expectations of breastfeeding, vaccinating your children, buying organic, cleaning with "green" products, dangers of high fructose corn syrup, limiting your child's tv time, enrolling them in school. In the end, does it really matter? Based on the blurb below, the answer is no. Granted I strive to be the best wife and mom I can be but in the big scheme of things, is giving my son a pack of fruit snacks going to kill him? Should I feel guilty letting him watch cartoons? Should I yell at him for jumping on the bed? My conclusion - absolutely not.

Although this was written to all the kids that survived the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's, it's a relevant reminder not to sweat the small stuff. Let your kids be kids and just enjoy life for what it is. Not what the pressures of society say it should be.

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes.

Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight. WHY?

Because we were always outside playing...that's why!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were OKAY.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Play stations, Nintendo's and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping pong paddles, or just a barehand and no one would call child services to report abuse.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment.

Imagine that!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


With Valentine's Day tomorrow, this Sweet Sunday is devoted to spreading the love. These are fun treats for the kids and can be sealed in a zip-lock bag in the freezer for several days. If you don't like chocolate, you could always make plain sugar cookies or even snickerdoodles are good. And if strawberry isn't your thing, any pink/red ice cream will work. Some of my festive faves: Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia and Bubble Gum.


Makes 24
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 to 2 1/2 pints strawberry ice cream, softened

1.) In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, vanilla, and sugar. Add eggs and milk, and mix until combined. Add reserved flour mixture, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl at least once. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

2.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on a floured surface, sliding an offset spatula under the dough to release it every few turns of the rolling pin. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough using a variety of heart-shape cookie cutters 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, making sure each cookie has a match to make a sandwich. Place hearts on a parchment-lined baking sheet; chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator; use a fork to prick the cookies all over with holes. Bake until just firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet; transfer to a wire rack.

3.) With the underside of half the cookies face up, spoon softened strawberry ice cream about 1/2 inch thick to cover one side. Place matching cookie on top of ice cream, top side facing out. Transfer immediately to freezer to harden; repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream. Serve directly from the freezer. Sandwiches can be kept stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 to 4 days.

I hope these will end your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Friday, February 11, 2011


Over the holidays, I received an unexpected Happy Holidays card in the mail from Tory Burch with a $100 gift card enclosed. Wondering how the heck I scored that?? Yeah - me too. Tory probably wanted to thank me for the one and only time I've ever purchased anything from her very stylish but out-of-my price range store.

So with my gift card in hand and Chase and Dave in tow, we set out for an evening activity. My husband being the frugal man that he is made it very clear that $100 of free money doesn't justify spending an additional $100-$200 of our own money. Humph, he's never any fun. Little did he know that the only thing under a $100 in that store is a pair of flimsy, plastic flip flops that I could find at Old Navy for $5. Minus of course the signature Tory emblem shining back in my face.

Upon arriving in the store, I bee-lined straight to the flip-flops. My shoe of choice. I immediately laid eyes on a pair of leather flips that were only $115. Score. That was painless and Dave would definitely approve of the $15+tax difference. I know, $115 for a strap of leather seems ridic but it's all relative when you're talking Tory Burch. Of course they didn't have my size in the black and Dave hated the other color option...
Alright - moving on to plan B. I held up a pair of Tory's classic ballerina flats. Ya know, the ones every girl has but me. His face went sour within a blink of an eye and I heard the broken record once again - "No flats Hail. Those are ugly and flats on chicks look awful..."
Alright - plan C. I start to get frustrated, Chase, with a pair of sunglasses strapped to his face, is pulling handbags off the wall, and Dave has the typical "I want to go, I've had enough shopping" body language. In my defense, we'd only been in the store 20 min. Max. So we leave. With nothing...

Alright - plan D. Knowing that I had to spend the card by the short lived expiration date, I searched on their website until wah-la, I found something to purchase - a really exciting pair of.......SLIPPERS!!! On sale even. Originally $128 marked down to $90. I truly did need a new pair of slippers as my UGG's were looking a little shabby.

The moral of the story and why this tickles my fancy - Yes, I went through a painful process to only get a pair of slippers but I made my husband happy, I found a deal, and they are super comfy. All in all, {free} money well spent!

Your turn...tell me what tickled your fancy this week!! A new book, date night to somewhere different, a screaming deal you landed...