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Friday, February 28, 2014

Leggings

The leggings trend took me a while to catch on to because I couldn't quite figure out how to wear them and was convinced they would not be flattering on me.  Once I saw more outfits that showed me how cute they can be, I tried them and never looked back.  Leggings are extremely comfy, warmer than tights, and very versatile.  In fact, more items became wearable for me once I began pairing them with leggings.  They help to make things more modest, cold weather friendly, and feminine ( I say feminine not because you aren't in a pair of jeans but let's be honest, when you have a skirt and leggings on, you feel a little more feminine.).  You can pair leggings with boots, flats or heels, whatever your preference.  I also love leggings on pregnant ladies and I wore them all the time when I was expecting.  I had a few summer dresses that I wanted to wear in the winter months of my pregnancy and leggings allowed me to do that (also helped as the length cinched up due to the belly ;)).

I don't pretend to be an expert with leggings but I have found a few ways that I like to wear them and thought I'd share because they really are such a great tool.  If you don't own any, I would start with basic black ones.  Black goes with everything and will feel more like "pants".  Check Maurices, TJ Maxx, Forever 21 or H&M.  If you want to spend a little more for higher quality, I hear the Victoria Secret ones are amazing.

Now, on to the outfits.  My favorite way to wear leggings is under a basic dress.  There are so many cute, little dresses out there that can be super cute with leggings (and it helps to be more modest if the dress is a little short).  Over the years, I have found (what I refer to as) Tunic dresses from various stores and those are my go-to for leggings.  Sweater dresses are also a big hit and something to pair as well.




One trend that I currently like is the shirts (or sweaters) that are longer in the back than in the front.  I love this because I don't like to wear leggings when my lower half isn't covered so this is perfect.  These shirts and sweaters also look great paired with skinny jeans, fyi.


You can always wear long tank tops under shirts to add coverage as well so I highly recommend investing in long tank tops (check same stores).

The long, trench-coat look is also in style but in a lighter, sweater-ish way.  There are tons of different styles of these - some are more sheer, others are heavier material.  These are totally great with leggings because they allow you to wear basically any shirt with leggings as the trench covers the backside.




I got this long trench at Macy's on clearance for $20 but I have seen them everywhere so they are not hard to find if you want one.  =)  

One look that I didn't do was a skirt with leggings because I'm sure you guys can figure that out on your own.  

Keep in mind that leggings are a summer item as well!  I just fold mine under a few inches to create the capri look and voila, you still have the cute, modest look in a summer way.


I hope this helps give you ideas for ways to wear leggings.  Let me know your favorite way to wear them!

XOXO
Joy





Monday, February 24, 2014

Waxing versus Threading

When I first began to groom my eyebrows, I plucked like I had been shown.  The problem with plucking is that it's hard to keep the brows even and to not get over-zealous.  I was constantly riding the wave of over-plucking and then letting them grow back in to start over.  It was not fun.

Eventually I began getting them waxed and liked it much better because it was faster and they were a lot more even.  What I hated about waxing was that if  you got a different person then your brows turned out differently.  There were several times when part of my brow was taken off and I was not happy about it.  It also made my skin super red right afterwards - so much so that I would not want to go anywhere in public for a few hours which was annoying. Overall, though, it was much better than plucking them myself.

Here's a picture to show my eyebrows when I was getting them waxed:
Notice the arch and overall shape

Yes, this picture is back before I knew about HAC and I was really tan cause we were on a trip to Miami.  =)  I look at my makeup then compared to my makeup now and sometimes cringe. =)  That is why I love to keep learning and trying new things cause there are so many tips out there and neat tricks that can really help change a whole look.

Last summer, Peter introduced me to the world of threading.  I was extremely skeptical and really didn't understand how it worked.  Let me just say, after my first time I was HOOKED!  The women who do it have been professionally trained and know exactly what they are doing.  My eyebrows have seriously never looked so good.  With threading, they can shape them so much more effectively that my arch looks way more defined now.  It was pretty painful the first time, however, after that it has become far less painful.  I also love that you can get them done every 2 weeks (instead of having to wait 3 weeks like you do for waxing).  I hated always having to grow my eyebrows out in-between waxes but with threading, you can go in right when they start to look noticeable.  My eyebrows also look way less red after I get it done.  The pricing is very comparable to waxing and the place that I go to offers "memberships" where you pay an upfront fee and then can go in whenever you want for 3 months.  Try it at least once!  I promise you won't be disappointed.




See how the arches are so much more defined and shaped nicely?  It doesn't look like just a straight line connecting to another straight line.  It gives a more soft, natural look.  Brows make a huge difference in your overall face shape/appearance and affect the look of your eyes as well.  Trust me, I will never go back to the world of waxing these babies!
For all the girls who live in Oregon, this is the place that I go to.  Every woman who works there is great - I have seen them all and they all know what they're doing! Let them know that you found out about their business from me.  =)

Have a wonderful day!

XOXO
Joy

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homemade Healthy Chocolate

Okay, we're talking Chocolate on the blog again!  As I said before, I am a chocolate girl and eat it pretty much every day so I had to find a good alternative to fit my lifestyle.

This recipe is one I make all the time because it is stinking easy, fast and delicious!  Did you know that it's also a metabolism booster??  That's right - it's good for you!  The benefits of coconut oil, raw cocoa powder and raw honey are astounding.  If you don't believe me here is an article explaining why this recipe is a metabolism booster (scroll past her recipe - same as mine - to read about it.) Honestly, do we even need any other reasons to eat this?  The one "downside" to it is that you have to keep it in the freezer or it will melt.  I consider that a good sign of a fresh product, though, and I don't mind at all.

Are you ready for the ingredients list?  Here you go:
-Coconut Oil
-Raw Cocoa powder (regular will work fine too if that's what you have)
-Raw Honey (again, use what you have)
-Vanilla Extract

Optional Toppings:
-Raw Almond Shavings
-Coarse Sea Salt
-Dried cherries
-Macadamia nuts


Melt 3/4 cup of coconut oil in a saucepan on the stove.  Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in:
3/4 cup of cocoa
3/4 cup of honey (I usually cut this down to probably 1/3 cup as I like to limit my sugar intake and I prefer really dark chocolate).
1 tsp vanilla


Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pour this mixture onto it.


Top with your preferred toppings (sea salt, almonds etc).  Put the pan in the freezer to set.  Once it is hard (like 10 minutes), cut it up or break it up into chunks.  I then place the pieces into a ziplock bag and keep that bag in my freezer.


The best part about this stuff is that even though it's cold in the freezer, it still melts in your mouth!  I seriously could eat the whole pan in one sitting.  Often I will make it when we have friends over and that's what we munch on.  It takes no time to whip up and is a big hit with guests.

If you want to use it in your healthy cookies (recipe here), it works as a great substitute for chocolate chips.  =)

Have a great Friday and wonderful weekend!  

XOXO
Joy












Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gluten Free, Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok,  this recipe is one that I make all the time!  It's so quick, easy and I usually have the ingredients on hand.  I am a chocolate girl so it's not something that I cut out of my diet even while being healthy.  =)  Most often, I make my own chocolate out of raw honey, coconut oil, cocoa powder and vanilla.  I love using that in these cookies but you can definitely use chocolate chips.  =) For homemade chocolate, find the recipe here.

This right here is all you need for the ingredients:

Oats, Banana, Peanut Butter, Vanilla, Honey and Chocolate)
See how easy it is???  I'm telling you, this recipe is awesome!   Let me just say that I don't usually measure when making these so I'm guessing on the amounts.

Begin with mashing up 2 ripe bananas.  Mix those with 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1 tsp of vanilla. You can add in honey if you feel like you need it - around 1/4 -1/3 cup.  If your bananas are more green (and less sweet) then add some honey.  If they are more ripe, you probably don't need it.




Next, add in rolled oats until you have a consistency thick enough to to form into cookies but not thick enough to roll into balls of dough.  (Around 2 cups?)



Add in your chocolate chips or whatever chocolate you want.  Once mixed up, your dough consistency should look something like this:


Drop onto a cookie sheet (should make about 1 pan)


Bake at 350 for 10-11 minutes.  And this is what they come out looking like:



So gooey and scrumptious!  

Simon loves them too.





Because these really have no sugar in them (when I make my own chocolate), I don't feel bad letting him have them after his meal.  


Until the next recipe,

XOXO
Joy


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Outfit

It has been a while since I did an outfit post and I thought it might be fun to show several different options to give ideas to you ladies!

I'm going to show you 3 different looks today and explain you how you could take them from casual to dressy.
Side note: I am a believer that you do not have to have a red or pink colored outfit for it to be "Valentine's".  You can easily add in jewelry or hair accessories to add a quick touch so don't feel like you have to shop for this!!  Look through your closet, find what you have to make it work and be creative!  These are just ideas - you can feel free to change them up.  

We'll start with a casual "daytime" look that would be fun to wear to a kiddo's valentine's party or to wear just because.

Skinny jeans:  Macy's
Pink sweater:  H&M
Scarf:  Maurices
Red flats:  Maurices

To take this look from day to night:  Exchange the scarf for a statement necklace (bigger, bolder one), slip on a pair of heels instead of flats (or boots would work too!).

Love seeing my little helper in that pic? ;)  He was very curious.

BONUS casual look:


Camo jeggings:  American Eagle
Pink tank top:  Macy's
Boots:  Justfab.com

To take this look from day to night:  Add a fun jacket and heels (or heeled boots).

Next up is a "working woman's" outfit OR anyone who wants to be a little more dressed up.



White eyelet skirt:  Maurices
Pink tank:  Macy's
Black booties:  Target
Black and Gold necklace:  H&M

To take this look from day to night:  Change up the hair - wearing your hair down is almost always more glamorous.  Change up the shoes to a fun stiletto and you can add a bracelet or other jewelry.

Lastly, there's the glamorous date-night look (or Valentine's party look!).  It's fancy, but I am a big believer in erring on the side of being too dressed up as opposed to being under-dressed.  I have been in both scenarios and find myself more self-conscious and uncomfortable when I am under-dressed.  PLUS, any holiday is a great excuse to be more over the top - you have a little more freedom in that arena.




Pink dress:   Macy's
Necklace:  Francesca's
Wedges:  Justfab.com

As you can see, I added a green necklace for fun; but a red or pink one would totally be appropriate and stand out really nicely!

ADD some fur for warmth and to totally send your look over the top!



 If you don't have fur, that's fine!  You can add a different jacket or none at all.  I just like my fur coat and any excuse to wear it.  =)  Don't forget to touch up your makeup for your date night look by adding to your eyeliner (lining the whole top of the lid, not just the outside) and by putting on some lip liner an lipstick!  This is also a great time to try out some fun, false eyelashes if you want.


Have fun with it, be creative and remember:  There really is no wrong or right way to it!

Happy Valentine's Day!



XOXO
Joy  





Monday, February 10, 2014

The Smoky Eye

Ladies,
  Today is the day you conquer your fears about crossing the line into the dark world of smoky eyes!  I know, it's a scary place because you have A.) Seen people who look like raccoons B.) Tried it before and it went horribly wrong C.) Love the look of dark eye shadow but are terrified of it falling all over your face as you put it on.  I personally have experienced all these things!  The secret to a smoky eye is that you can't be afraid of it.  You have to try it and leave it on for a while to make sure that it's not just that you're not used to seeing yourself look that way.  Guess what?  It's just makeup and you can wash it off!  No harm, no foul.

I have 4 tips for mastering a smoky eye:

1.  Multiple colors on your lid  - you still want a dimensional eye.  One, dark color all over your lid will make your eye smaller and not show depth to them.
2.  Blend, blend, blend!  No harsh lines showing where exactly you put the color on your lid.
3.  Color on your skin/face - bronzer/powder is a must
4.  Concealer/highlighter under your eyes, down your nose, etc (like when you contour).  It is amazing how when you add that concealer, you can immediately get away with more dark on/under your eyes.




Pardon the "selfies", Peter wasn't around to take pics for me.  =)


This is more of a "conservative" smoky eye so it would work for daytime as well as nighttime.  I love how eyes pop in this look!  If you wanted a darker one for a hot date, you could easily add more in a darker color (I would add it on the corners/crease and blend it in towards the center).

Click HERE for the video tutorial!  



Here are some of the products that I used and love for this look:





Link for the Bahama Mama Bronzer:


Let me know if you have any questions!  =)


XOXO
Joy


Friday, February 7, 2014

Weight Training Part 3: Home Exercises

Welcome to weight training part 3!  Today, Grace and I are going to give you examples of exercises that you can do at the gym OR at home.  I remember when I first started this, I really didn't know what to do so I thought it would be helpful to give you some ideas.

Let's start by explaining "sets" and "reps".  A rep is one move (ex:  if you are curling a dumb bell, a rep is one time up and down.)  A set is multiple reps.  So, if I said to curl your dumbells 12-15 reps for 3 sets, that would mean 12-15 curls (up and down is one time) x 3.  You take breaks between your sets so that you're only doing 12-15 curls, break, do it again etc times 3.  I hope that makes sense!

If you circuit train (or interval train) you don't have to worry as much about sets and reps as you do just watching the time.  I love doing this because even though it's hard, it's quick and gives great results.

These exercises that we're giving you today could be done in a circuit training way by doing each exercise continuously for 1 minute (going on to the next exercise with no break in-between) OR 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off for 1 minute (going on to the next exercise after the minute is over with no break).  You can also do them in sets and reps but if you are wanting to get your heart rate up higher, I recommend doing them circuit training style.

Arm Curls:
Beginning Position Down

Curl Up engaging your biceps, stomach, legs and butt

End by curling back down


That's ONE rep in your first set.  Make Sense?



Push Ups:

Starting position (can be done from your knees as well!)

Lower yourself to hovering over the floor

Push back up to starting position to finish ONE rep.


Squats:

Hold a dumb bell for added weight.  Starting position.
Squat like you are sitting in a chair

Stand back up to finish your first rep.


Mountain Climbers:

Starting Position

Touch your knee to your elbow (not all the way)

Back to starting position

Bring your opposite knee to elbow

Finish this rep in your beginning position.


Burpees:

Beginning position

Squat down and touch the ground

Jump your feet back so you are in a "push up" position
Jump your feet back up to your hands

End by jumping and touching the sky


Bear Crawls:

Beginning position:  Keep your legs straight

Walk like a bear keeping your legs and arms straight



Plank:


Hold this position for 30 seconds working up to a minute.  Squeeze the butt and legs, hold the stomach in tight.


Leg Lifts:


On hands and knees, hold a dumb bell in one leg

Lift that leg up squeezing your butt and the dumb bell
Return to beginning position.

Do quick repeats for 30 seconds per leg



Usually for one circuit training time I do 6 exercises (1 minute each) 3-5 times through.  We have given you 8 exercises to choose from so that should be plenty to get you started!  Mix it up and be creative.  Remember, it's hard but it really isn't that long so you can push through it!  Maybe do it with a girlfriend or have a friend that you can chat with and hold each other accountable.  Once you get the habit established of doing it a few times a week, it really isn't that hard to maintain.  It's just getting the habit in place that can be the challenge.  You got this!  =)

Good Luck!
Joy and Grace