Anything for Love: Crossing Lines

She picked up the phone and dialed, hoping his wife was at work. He answered. He gave her the brush off.

Things were not right at his house but maybe in the future things could work out for them.

She said, “Oh…..that’s okay.”  She couldn’t believe those words came out of her mouth.

Her husband walked into the bedroom. She quickly hung up the phone. “Who was on the phone”, he asked. “No one”, she said.

All day long she pretended that everything was fine. It was not! 

Continue reading Anything for Love: Crossing Lines

What Is Laser Hair Removal and How Does It Work

Don’t we all find the thought of never having to shave our legs again even the least bit enticing? All that time saved, no more nicks or cuts, no more ingrown hairs, razor burn, or panic at realizing we forgot to shave. Looking for more permanent hair removal options...? (Photo courtesy of women turn to laser hair removal when they get fed up with shaving or when they realize how much time they can save themselves in the long run. Laser hair removal also treats hair removal on other parts of the body for both women and men, delivering smooth and hair-free results over time.

But, in the long run, is laser hair removal really worth the cost? Is it permanent and effective? Is laser hair removal really a safe hair removal option? Read on to get the inside scoop on laser hair removal and how it works from Daniel N. Ronel, MD, a doctor specializing in laser hair removal.

Q. What are some permanent hair removal options?

A. Dr. Ronel: Although there are many temporary measures that can be used to remove hair (waxing, creams, shaving, plucking), the way to remove hair permanently is to destroy the bulb from which the hair grows. The only two methods are electrolysis and laser therapy. Electrolysis is a tedious, invasive, and painful process that involves inserting a needle into each individual hair follicle and delivering an electrical charge to them one at a time. Electrolysis often requires years of treatments at regular intervals. By delivering light energy to hundreds of hair follicles at a time, laser hair removal effectively treats an area in just seconds that would take over an hour with electrolysis.

Both techniques are not 100% perfect; that is, hair can occasionally grow back. These “regrowths” are easily treated.

Q. What are the risks, cons, or side effects of laser hair removal? Is it dangerous? Is it painful? Does the pain last after the procedure? Is there scarring?

A. Dr. Ronel: There are many different lasers that can be used for hair removal — some are more effective and gentler than others. The new lasers, such as the Cutera ProWave, can cause a mild pinching or stinging sensation. No local anesthesia or pain medication is typically required. Most patients experience few side effects, such as slight reddening and local swelling of the skin, similar to a sunburn. These typically last for several hours or less. In rare instances, blistering may occur. The more experienced the operator, the less likely it is that any side effects will occur, so it is important to check the credentials of the person operating the laser. Improper use can cause darkening of the skin, and even burning and scarring.

Q. How long does it take for laser hair removal to be most effective? (Hours, days, weeks, months, number of sessions?)

A. Dr. Ronel: Effects are seen right away. Laser hair removal targets growing hairs, so the therapy must be repeated as new hairs enter the growth cycle. This is usually every three to four weeks, depending on the individual. Underarms and the bikini line usually requires four sessions, legs typically require four to six sessions. After the sessions are completed, usually a smaller series of three sessions is required yearly, although this varies by the individual.

BEFORE laser hair removal (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ronel) AFTER laser hair removal (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ronel)

Q. Is the hair gone for good?

A. Dr. Ronel: It is not 100% permanent, but when hair grows back in between sessions, it is usually at half the thickness it was before.

Q. What does the patient need to do to prepare for this procedure?

A. Dr. Ronel: Shave the area; do not pluck or wax before the treatment (the hair has to be there for the laser to work on it). Dark hair, light skin, and coarse hair are the easiest to treat. People with dark skin may not be ideal candidates, but still benefit from treatment and may require more sessions. Blond, grey, and red hairs are difficult to treat with a laser, and tanned patients must wait until the tan fades before treatment.

People with psoriasis, cystic acne, and dermatitis are not good candidates. Those taking Retin A or Accutane should not be treated, and neither should people who have a pacemaker, who are pregnant, or who have metal screws in the area.

Additional Notes:
“Patients spent over $300 million on more than 780,000 laser hair removal treatments in 2005, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons,” Dr. Ronel adds.

“The new lasers can treat a wide range of skin types, and the large handpiece on the Prowave can quickly treat large areas, such as women’s legs and men’s backs.”

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Anything For Love – A Not-So Perfect End to the Perfect Day

“Gosh! What a beautiful sunset…” Marie sighed as she dipped her toes in the cool, aqua colored water. They stroked across the surface, creating miniature ripples in the ocean. Everything was so perfect; I was relaxed in my oversized Marathon 2007 tee, and watching the sunset, with my best friend in the whole universe.

I flipped my jumbled locks of oatmeal colored hair and leaned back, enjoying the sunset, fading into brilliant shades of coral, chocolate, and firebrick. Suddenly, out of the corners of my pale blue eyes, I spotted him. He was sporting this wonderful navy blazer with a shiny zipper that ran like railroad tracks all the way down to his khaki cargo shorts. His hair was perfectly groomed, and his eyes sparkled like a pearl from the sea.

Continue reading Anything For Love – A Not-So Perfect End to the Perfect Day

Anything For Love – Bumps, Bruises, and Burns Along the Way

He was my very first love, first kiss, first feeling that I couldn’t quite describe, and I was his. We were so young though and just before the snow season started he and I parted ways. I knew that this would be ok, not because I would ever move on, but because we had a whole life time to find our ways back to each other.

We worked at a ski resort together and that winter and I was forever trying to make my impression on him. I figured that when he was finding the freedom, independence, and adventure that he was looking for, he would see that I too was finding those things, and conclude that we could do all of that together and that it would be even better.

Trying to impress this upon him while working in a run down ski chalet’s cafeteria was quite difficult though. When it was time to bake the giant chocolate chip cookies, the ones that made parents wonder why ski club wasn’t helping their kids lose their baby fat, well I wouldn’t just bake them. I hand shaped each into hearts, snowflakes, animals, even the circle ones were suns and moons as I handed them out with a smile to my regulars.

And what crazy girl would take on the very most dangerous and dreaded job of all, emptying the fryer at the end of the night, well that would be me of course! Anyway it couldn’t be that heavy. I saw that by the time a full day’s orders of French fries and chicken fingers had been made, half the grease vat had dripped onto the floor anyway. I realized maybe that wasn’t such a convenience as I sailed in the air, landing on my tush, a bucket of congealed fryer remains landing on top of me. And that was just what I did at work.

Out on the slopes I would be the fearless girl that dropped in the half pipe, that played chicken with the trees just like the boys . . . that accidentally fell off the chair lift and had the entire hill shut down.

That winter passed, and quite a few after that, but eventually my first love came back. I had traded in mountains for the ocean and was living in Florida. He flew half way across the country to tell me in person that he loved me and was never able to forget me. He confessed that he almost gave up pursuing me because I seemed so independent, adventurous, and free.

Each year that we go home to visit our families for Christmas and New Years, as husband and wife, we make sure to take a trip to our ski hill. Even if we can’t get in a ride we park at the bottom of the hill and talk about that winter.

Editor’s Note: The views are exclusively in the authors’ perspective and do not necessarily represent the views of the Web site or its management.


Sandra D. Bricker’s book, Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas, is available at! 

Ten Ways to Save Money and Live Frugally

With the rising costs associated with daily life, it really pays off to live a little more frugally these days. Save your pennies and dimes! (Photo courtesy of just a few small adjustments to your lifestyle, you can save a bundle. To save yourself some money and find ways to improve your financial situation, try these ten ways to save money and live frugally.

1. Create a budget and stick with it. Allot yourself a certain amount of money for certain things each month. The best method I have found so far is working with the envelope method. Assign an envelope to each category for which you will need money in a given month – perhaps one for grocery money, one for general spending money, and so forth. (I suggest $50 a month if that fits your personal budget- then you get roughly $12.50 a week for guilty pleasures. Now, don’t you feel like you’re a kid again, waiting for your allowance?)

If you discipline yourself and avoid spending every red cent, you can roll over your allotments to the next week’s budget. You can even borrow from the surplus of one if you are desperate to fulfill another need. Just be careful not to go overboard because the worst thing you can do is dig yourself into a financial trench.

2. Save going out to eat for special occasions.
Wednesday, aka “Hump Day” or the halfway point of your workweek, does not qualify as a special occasion. Nor does the long-awaited Friday, the Monday blues or any other made-up work related excuse.

Welcoming a promotion, celebrating your birthday, anniversary or other holiday, and spending an evening out on a date are all acceptable reasons for enjoying a meal in a dining establishment. You don’t have to give up on eating out altogether, but use the discretion within your conscience rather than that of your stomach.

If you are extra ambitious or if you merely find yourself craving that fast food combo meal a bit too often, designate a glass jar or other container to be your honorary savings jar. Whenever you really want to eat out, try to restrain yourself and put the money you would have spent in the jar.

3. Bring your lunch to work or school. Save money by cooking your meal at home and bringing it in, or pack leftovers. Don’t like leftovers? Tough. Learn. Use discipline and save the money so that one day you can afford to eat out wherever you like.

That cheeseburger meal with steaming fries may sound good and may truly make your mouth water when the guy in the next cube brings one back to his desk, but think about how much more you would love to have your dream car, a boat or even a new laptop. Sure it will take some time, but with the right savings plan and some serious discipline, anything is possible.

Set up a savings plan. (Photo courtesy of Strategize. Combine your trips out in the car to reduce unnecessary driving. As the prices of gasoline continue to shoot through the roof, plan your weeks so that you run all your errands within the same trip. Go to the bank, the post office, stop in for your doctor’s appointment and then hit up the grocery store on your way home. (Note: Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s were not mentioned in this itinerary. That was not a misprint!)

5. Cut coupons. As 1985-coupon-club as it may seem, I sure wouldn’t complain about a few extra bucks in my pocket or in my bankbook, how about you? My mom is the queen of all coupon shoppers – I kid you not. She just recently went to the supermarket to take advantage of a special promotion and came home with $419.94 worth of groceries that she had finessed out of the store for a meager $210.98. She virtually cut her bill in half – and you can, too, with the right mindset, discipline and arsenal of coupons stashed away in your purse.

6. Start a vegetable garden. With fresh produce prices on the rise, you can’t go wrong by growing your own. As a child, my best friend and I used to cart away our moms’ garden goods to the shopping center at the top of our street. We sat up there on a blanket with a money bag and a sign, collecting summer cash from passers-by and those who happened to be in the mood for a slice of Jack’s Pizza, new riding equipment for equestrians, or perhaps a sweet confection, all available from various merchants. Nowadays, somebody would probably slap us with a fine or send us home to mom, telling us we needed a license to sell things. Thankfully, in the days of our early entrepreneurship, we learned the value of earning one’s keep and keeping a hold of it!

7. Don’t do your food shopping on an empty stomach! Many people believe that shopping for groceries while you are hungry is one of the worst things one can do, for the simple reason that if your stomach is growling, you will be more inclined to impulse buy. Hmm, that pepperoni looks good. Ooh…donuts! …and cookies, and candy, and ice cream, and potato chips, and fried chicken, and pizza… And eventually the cashier begins to wonder if you are pregnant – regardless of your sex – simply based on the gluttonous array of junk food and entrees safely stashed in your shopping cart. Better check out – after you’ve had something to eat to tide you over!

8. When bargain hunting, learn the art of discretion. If you didn’t come out specifically looking for it, you probably don’t need it. If you can’t think of a significant use for it within about 45 seconds (a gift for someone, to replace something that is old and decrepit in your house…), you probably don’t need it.

Sometimes some deals are just too good to pass up – like a $55 designer sweater for $1.95 at the Bon Ton, or a business suit in exactly your size for $5. No lie – these are actual bargains that I have sniffed out and taken advantage of. I can also tell you that I have three extras of those sweaters and three other shirts I got at the same price that have no home but a bag cluttering up my room. I’m sure I saved my receipt but I may have waited too long to make the return. (Find out from your stores how long you have to make a return or exchange if you think you might need to know.)

9. Save your receipts.
You never know when the time might come that you will need them. OK, so if you did go out and get that burger meal against my advice, you really don’t have to feel bad destroying the evidence. I can’t really think of a time when you will need a receipt for a cheeseburger – and besides, that is something one would expect not to return!

Many stores will allow their consumers to return unopened merchandise as long as a receipt is presented at the time of return, unless otherwise posted. Some stores also value the customer’s business enough to accept opened makeup that the shopper did not like, as well as some other items that have been unwrapped.

10. Skim out a little of your paycheck for safekeeping. When you get your paycheck each pay period, make a commitment to yourself to set a certain amount aside for general savings. You should have a savings account at your bank into which you can easily deposit funds. Once you get into the habit of setting that money aside, it will sta
rt to add up and garner interest.

Anything for Love – Dare to Be Deflated

I’m afraid that the craziest thing I’ve ever done for love might qualify me as a stalker in some states.

Ryan was in one of my college classes, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get him to give me a second glance. I heard that he was going to have a party at the house he shared with two roommates one weekend, and I moved heaven and earth to wrangle an invitation. I’d heard that Ryan didn’t have a girlfriend, but he was so busy with the ladies that night that it seemed like every time I saw him, he was with a different girl. I left the party at 1 a.m. because he’d disappeared for the night, and I hadn’t even been able to say five words to him the whole time I was there.

In a last-ditch effort to get access to him, I devised a plan. Fairly early on a Sunday morning, I drove by his house to make sure his car was parked there and he was in the house, and then I parked my car on the shoulder of a fairly deserted road about a mile away. I produced a steak knife from the glove compartment (and no, I’m not kidding!), and I plunged it into my right front tire. Then I walked the mile to Ryan’s house and knocked on the door.

I’d practiced what I was going to say the whole way there. I’d partied too hard the night before and had to crash on someone’s sofa, then got a little lost on the way home. When my tire went flat, I realized I’d left my cell phone behind, but thankfully I realized I was close to the house where I’d attended a party a couple of weeks earlier and could go there for help. I’d even left my cell phone behind so that I wasn’t nailed in the lie.

I remember thinking at the time, in my young college-aged mind, that it was a brilliant plan. What I hadn’t thought of was the possibility that he’d gone out with his roommates, in one of their cars, and they had collectively stayed out all night. I knocked and knocked on the door until my knuckles ached, then walked around and looked into windows. Every room was empty. I sat on the front porch for three hours waiting for someone to come home, which they never did.

The silver lining to this thunderstorm cloud was that their next-door neighbor saw me and when she heard my flat tire story, she fetched her husband to give me a ride back to my car. He even changed the tire for me.

Editor’s Note: The views are exclusively in the authors’ perspective and do not necessarily represent the views of the Web site or its management.


Sandra D. Bricker’s book, Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas, is available at! 

Anything for Love – Love Is for the Dogs

I don’t know if it’s the craziest thing I’ve done for love, but it’s definitely the stupidest. I had been dating Jeff for a couple of months, and I felt pretty sure that things were moving toward getting serious. He went out of town for a couple of weeks on business, and then called to invite me up to visit him one weekend. When I said yes, he asked me if I would bring the dog along since he was really missing him.

Sport had been staying with me since Jeff had been gone. Since the dog had a penchant for chewing things (my favorite shoes, the corner of the bathroom door jamb, my comforter … he’d even bitten me twice!), I was more than happy to take him with me rather than search for somewhere to board him while I drove the two hours and spent the weekend with my new boyfriend! Certainly, none of my friends were going to take the monster in.

Well, in the week before I left to see him, the list of things he wanted me to bring with me grew longer and longer. Not to mention stranger! He was just going to be there another couple of weeks, so I couldn’t help but wonder why he needed things like his bedroom pillows, his blender, and one of the chairs to his dining room set. He explained that he was staying somewhere devoid of anything personal, and it was really getting to him, so I loaded the trunk and back seat of my car on Saturday morning, and the dog and I set out on the drive to see Jeff.

The anticipation was electric. I could hardly wait to see him again. Until I got there, and he met me outside with an unenthusiastic embrace and began unloading things from the car and setting them on the lawn of a small duplex. When my car was completely devoid of his belongings, Jeff stood there with his dog’s leash in hand, and proceeded to tell me that he wasn’t coming back. In fact, he was moving in with a woman he’d met while there on business.

He had actually gotten me to pretty much move for him on the pretense that we were still a couple! As I started to pull away, the new girlfriend joined him in the front yard. In my rearview mirror, I watched as she crouched down in front of that horrible dog of his and let him lick her entire face. I spent the drive home fantasizing about the first time that little angel she was cooing over destroyed her purse and all of its contents.

Editor’s Note: The views are exclusively in the authors’ perspective and do not necessarily represent the views of the Web site or its management.


Sandra D. Bricker’s book, Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas, is available at! 


How to Choose the Best Earrings for Your Face Shape

14K Yellow Gold Genuine Citrine Earrings, by B2C JewelsNo matter what your age, earrings are a hot accessory to spice up any outfit. Once you determine what colors and materials (metals, stones, shells, etc.) you prefer in earrings, you can begin to consider other factors, like the level of formality and of course, the price point. You may also want to consider which earrings would be best based on your face shape. This article provides tips and examples of the best earrings for different face shapes, so read on to find out what styles would best complement yours!

Michelle Ponto, a representative for B2C Jewels, shares the following tips on how to choose the best earrings for your face shape. No matter what shape your face is, you are sure to find a style of earrings that will look great.

“Accessories are a great way to update your look at an older age – and the right pieces can go a long way in enhancing your appearance as well,” Ponto says. “Here with some tips for choosing the right jewelry for your shape and frame.”

The Best Earrings for Your Face Shape
To choose the best earrings for your face shape, consider your own fashion and style preferences, choice of metal and adornments, and your budget. Also, check out the following suggestions for your face shape, whether it’s oval, square, heart-shaped, or round.

Oval Face
As with consideration for haircuts, the oval face is the proverbial lottery winner. Shapes, sizes, styles, textures, lengths, and widths of earrings for the oval face may not weigh in as much as with other face shapes.

“You can wear most earrings – oval faces are well-proportioned,” Ponto says. “Studs and mid-length dangly earrings will show off your proportions; long earrings might make you look too elongated.”

A few examples of some great earrings for an oval face include:

Sterling Silver Celtic Knot Blue Topaz Dangle, available at Amazon.com14K White Gold Round Cut Diamond Studs are truly a staple – they look great with any outfit, for any occasion.

Various Yellow Gold or White Gold Diamond Studs offer a chance to show off your preference in cut and the color of the gold settings.

14K Yellow Gold Akoya Pearl Studs are a classy and classic look for women.

Sterling Silver Celtic Knot Blue Topaz Dangle Earrings weave their way intricately to a grand finale blue topaz stone.

Pink Shell Mother of Pearl Sterling Silver Dangle Earrings feature beautiful shell inlays in a sterling silver, feather shaped earring.

Square Face
As you prepare to choose the best earrings for a square face, think about shapes that would contrast with a square shape. Look for earrings with soft curves and gentle bends.

“Soften the face’s angles with round silhouettes,” Ponto suggests. “Create the illusion of length with earrings that have a slight drop.”

Blomdahl Opal Drop Earrings, available at Amazon.comSome examples of earrings that look beautiful with a square face include:

• Add some texture with 14K Yellow Gold Genuine Garnet and Serpentine Earrings, which feature clean cuts and contrast in shapes and angles.

Brown Dyed Mother of Pearl Nugget Earrings offer a slightly off-the-beaten-path look to any outfit for day or night.

• Funky and fun Sterling Silver Murano Glass Bead Earrings can bring some pizzazz to your earring collection.

• Perfect for any outfit, Black Tahitian South Sea Pave CZ Pearl Drop Earrings can also work for business, casual, or formal events.

Blomdahl Opal Drop Earrings offer the ultimate elegance for fancy occasions.

Heart-shaped Face
The heart-shaped face is wider at the top, tapering down to the chin. You can choose the best earrings for a heart-shaped face by considering an inverted shape for your earrings.

“Dangly earrings that are wider at the bottom will add volume to the bottom of your face,” Ponto states. “Triangle-like shapes will work well to balance out a pointy chin.”

A few examples of lovely earrings for a heart-shaped face include:

14K Two-Tone Gold Designer Earrings, by B2C Jewels14K Two-Tone Gold Designer Earrings bring movement and gentle motion to the equation.

• For any occasion, consider Earspiral™ “Paisley” with Celtic Knot Sterling Silver Dangle Earrings. Their elegant curves and twists provide a beautiful design for heart-shaped faces.

Sterling Silver Open Double Flower Earrings offer a clean look of perfect symmetry. Dress up or dress down with a design that looks great with your face shape.

• Want earrings with a little more personality? Check out Blue Moon Merlyn’s Window Earrings for a fresh style blending curves and curls.

Sterling Silver Celtic Square Earrings offer a lovely union of culture and style, boasting a wider shape at the bottom for a lovely fit with the heart-shaped face.

Round Face
To choose the best earrings for a round face, keep shape and length in mind. You can find many attractive earring styles to suit your face shape, giving you a beautiful accent to your favorite outfits or everyday, casual clothing.

“Draw the eye vertically rather than in a circle,” Ponto recommends. “Don’t choose anything too skinny – it’ll emphasize your face’s roundness.”

A few examples of pretty earrings for a round face include:

14K Yellow Gold Genuine Citrine Earrings bring the eye to focus on the lovely pendant of sparkling stones.

Sterling Silver Celtic Design Oval Earrings offer a fancy or sedate look for any outing. The twisty design provides fine symmetry and a nice flow for the eyes.

• For fancy occasions and elegant attire, the 10K White Gold Black Diamond Infinity Earrings make a beautiful statement, especially for those with rounder faces.

Clearly Charming Mother of Pearl Bar Sterling Silver Earrings, available at Gold Filled Peridot Dangle Earrings deliver an earring style that is both fashionable and functional. This design could work nicely with a variety of wardrobe selections.

• A slightly abstract beauty, the Clearly Charming Sterling Silver Mother of Pearl Bar Earrings feature multi-colored mother of pearl shell inlays on sterling silver earrings in a flower-type pattern.

We hope this guide to choosing the best earrings for your face shape truly does help you to find and select some earrings to accent your wardrobe and accessorize your look. Remember, sometimes looking great really is in the details!

Top Ten Romantic Weekend Getaways for Couples of All Ages

Consider these top 10 romantic weekend getaways for couples of all ages.Sometimes taking a week-long vacation isn’t an option. That’s when romantic weekend getaways for couples can really do the trick to recharge your batteries and reignite the spark that brought you together. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be dozens of wonderful places where you can enjoy a romantic weekend getaway.

Consider these ideas for a weekend or an extended weekend away, and you may find yourself the perfect excuse to leave home and enjoy a new and romantic destination within a reasonable drive from your home. Here are my top ten romantic weekend getaways for couples of all ages.

Top 10 Romantic Weekend Getaways for Couples

1. Hide away at a quaint Bed and Breakfast. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be an adorable, unusual, or elegant Bed and Breakfast near enough to suit your search for weekend escapes. You will both enjoy the intimate and relaxing setting that a Bed and Breakfast provides, offering you seclusion and time just for the two of you. Enjoy the meals, explore the countryside, and spend time focusing on each other.

Enjoy a trip to the mountains for the weekend retreat.2. Immerse yourself in the finer things in your nearest wine country. Wine in and of itself embodies a fine element of romance. To amplify that feeling to exponential form, plan a romantic couples weekend getaway at your nearest wine country and check out several of the different wineries. If you can find a Bed and Breakfast or a cottage for rent within a reasonable walking distance of the wineries, all the better! If you simply can’t spare the expense to travel to a wine region, consider picking up a few varietals at your local wine and spirits store and then plan and prepare a wine tasting of your own.

3. Hit the slopes… or the slides. If you and your significant other are a couple of regular snow bunnies, head off to the slopes where you can really enjoy a romantic weekend excursion. Glide down the mountain, hold hands on the chair lift, and sip hot chocolate by the fire inside the cozy lodge. If skiing isn’t in season, consider visiting a water park to relive some of your childhood fun. The slides and wave pools can be a great way to cool off on a hot day.

4. Soak up the sun, wade into the surf, and relax on the sand. For many people, the beach is a must-see destination each and every time the summer rolls around. If you can get to the seashore conveniently from your hometown, make sure you pack your camera and plenty of sunblock. You can ride the waves, walk out in to the ocean, stroll along the sandy shores and search for seashells during this classic romantic weekend getaway for couples, families, or singles alike.

Enjoy romantic breakfast in bed with your sweetheart.5. Sneak away to a romantic couples resort. If you really want some special time to yourselves, book yourselves some intimate accommodations at a couples resort or at a posh resort that offers romantic couples packages. You might spend some time taking tennis lessons together, or visiting the spa for a romantic couples massage. Perhaps you won’t even want to leave your room! Depending on the nature of your accommodations, your room might even have its own private Jacuzzi.

Keep Reading for Five More Romantic Getaways…

How to rock dark nail polish

For the last few years, one of the “newest trends” continues to be dark or black nail polish. When you flip through the pages of any glossy gossip magazine, you’re bound to see Hollywood girls from troubled starlets to pop stars flashing fingers tipped with edgy dark polish.

One piece of good news is that dark doesn’t have to mean black. While black can create quite a statement, it’s not for everyone. There are many lovely shades of navy, dark purple, deep burgundy, even chocolate brown, which can work to give you a hot, sexy manicure. Follow these tips, and you’ll be easily riding this trend in next to no time. Not quite ready for dark fingernails? That’s fine! Try these tips during your next pedicure to have something different peeking out of your summer sandals.

One thing you’ll want to make sure of before you try out dark nail polish is that your nails are short and neat. You’re going for edgy, not dragon lady. Give yourself a manicure, trimming and filing your nails to a good short length. Take care of your cuticles, too–I like putting on some Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream or Manicure’s Best friend by bliss. Make sure you wash your hands before applying your polishes, to remove any cream residue that might keep your manicure from lasting.

You’ll want to apply a good base coat before you start, as well. Dark nail polish can stain or discolor your nails, so it’s a good idea even if you don’t normally use base coat. A good ridge-filling base coat (like Seche Base) or strengthening base coat (like Sally Hansen Hard As Nails) does double-duty here.

Picking your dark color should be the hardest part of this–there are so many from which to choose! Many brands these days carry dark colors, and you can find them to fit any budget. Some good ones to check out are Wet ‘n’ Wild, Sally Hansen, OPI, Sephora brand, MAC, and Chanel. This is definitely something you want to shop for in person; colors online are never what they seem, and you could think you’re ordering a dark berry just to end up with a hot pink! Colors may dry darker or lighter than they appear in the bottle, as well, so if there are testers, it can be a good idea to try a spot out on your thumbnail before buying.

Make sure to apply at least two coats of your dark polish, as many dark polishes can be thin, and streaks are pretty obvious when you’re using a dark color. If you make a mistake, dip a cotton swab in some nail polish remover and carefully clean it up. Once your two coats are dry, apply a good top coat, too. Like streaks, chips in dark nail polish are obvious.

Well, there you go! At this point, you should have a dark, lovely manicure, and be a part of one of the coolest trends of the last several years.

How to Straighten Hair with a Flat Iron

If you’ve ever wondered how to straighten your hair at home or if you’re searching for answers on how to use a flat iron, you’ve come to the right place. Flat irons can make straightening a breeze!Once you learn a few tips and tricks about how to straighten hair with a flat iron at home, you should have an easy time taking your hair from curly or wavy to smooth and straight. And, to give you a good start, we’ve got first-hand tips from FHI Heat’s Artistic Director Les Haverty, who has kindly shared some great at-home hair straightening techniques as well as tips on how to use a flat iron.

Read on for tips on at-home hair straightening and flat iron tips from the pros!

“The best tip for new users to this technology would be to section hair and use clips to keep hair that is not being styled with the tool out of the way,” says Les Haverty, Artistic Director of FHI Heat Professional Hair Tools. “I always request younger clients to use tools that have a heat control thermostat and start at 370 degrees (Fahrenheit), as they can always add more heat if needed by turning it up. I hate tools that don’t give an actual temperature rating and have thermostats labeled by 1 – 10 for example, as we don’t know what 1 or 10 actually is in terms of degrees F.”

To learn how to straighten hair with a flat iron and especially how to use a flat iron, you will want to set aside some time to practice. It’s best not to try your at-home hair straightening techniques for the very first time on the same day as a particularly important special event such as your prom, a wedding, or another formal event. Once you practice your hair straightening techniques, you should be able to straighten your hair with a flat iron beautifully and effectively in a reasonable amount of time.

How to Use a Flat Iron: Different hair types and styles call for different hair straightening techniques.
Over time, you may adopt your own favorite hair straightening techniques. If you are a beginner at straightening your hair or if this is your first time learning how to use a flat iron, take your time and read the instructions on the packaging. Hair straightening techniques should become easier in time, and you may discover that some techniques and products in particular work better for straightening your hair than others.

“On longer bohemian styles that look lived-in but still finished, I recommend using a large paddle brush during the blow out phase of the style,” Haverty says. “For the trendier bob style, I like using a medium sized round brush for the blow out and then finish the longer pieces around the face with a flat iron to ensure sleek longevity of the style.”

Ceramic ionic hair appliances deliver a silky sheen and smooth texture to hair when blown dry or straightened. If you are not using a ceramic ionic tool, Haverty suggests using styling products along with the flat iron to perfect your hair straightening technique.

“Using most products when thermal styling with tools that are ceramic ionic in nature can help on humid days for frizz control,” he notes. “I like FHI Heat’s hot sauce applied at the ends and mid strands on those dreadful days.”

How to Use a Flat Iron to Straighten Hair
Follow these steps to use a flat iron to straighten your hair:

1. Comb a small section of hair.
2. Place the flat iron as close to the scalp as possible on that small section of hair.
3. Close the flat iron and keep a light grip.
4. Pull the flat iron downward and away from the scalp gently and evenly, allowing the hair to glide effortlessly between the ceramic plates.
5. Repeat this process (steps one through four) as needed through the rest of your hair.

TIP: You can create flips, twists, and curls with your flat iron merely by changing the way you hold and move the device. Use the flat iron to create these other styles by twisting your wrist as needed. You may need to experiment to get it just right!

Chemical Straightening vs. At-Home Hair Straightening Techniques
Chemical straightening in the salon tends to be permanent when performed on hair. At-home hair straightening can become a fairly routine part of your daily repertoire, especially with the assistance of a flat iron and various styling products.

Haverty suggests that at-home hair straightening can be effective and safe for hair when performed properly. He advises clients to straighten and style their hair using a flat iron at 370 degrees Fahrenheit, increasing the temperature of the hair appliance if necessary. Straightening hair with a flat iron is much easier with temperature control, he says, mentioning the FHI Heat platform or technique series as great options for anyone who wishes to straighten their hair.

Thanks to the slender and sleek design of flat irons, you can easily pack your flat iron for travel. You can straighten your hair with a flat iron at home or when you go away for business or on vacation. Once you learn how to use a flat iron and adopt a few hair straightening techniques and tips, you’ll be well on your way to effortless hairstyling!

Benefits of Straightening Hair with a Flat Iron…