How to Get Two-Tone Hairstyles at Home

Two tone hairstyle, courtesy of morgueFileYou may not need a special trip to the salon to get the cutting-edge, two-color hairstyle you desire. For a great two-tone hairdo, look no further than the beauty aisle of your favorite store and your own bathroom. Here are some tips from Colorist Sandy Taylor-Furst on how to get two-tone hairstyles in the comfort of your own home.

“You think that colorists can do your color more efficiently than at home; not always so,” says Master Hair Colorist Sandy Taylor-Furst, who is president and CEO of “I have seen some drawn out hair coloring processes that could have been done by someone at home.”

Sandy Taylor-Furst provides helpful tips and tricks for hairstyles on her Web site and through her DVDs. She offers these instructions to get the two-tone hairstyle you want, starting quite simply with the box instructions:

– One box of tint

– A highlighting kit

Step 1: Tint your hair. First things first – tint your hair according to the box instructions.

TIP: “If you have any white hair, allow the tint to stay on longer, for about 35 minutes rather than the 10 to 20 minutes the box recommends. (They just want the consumer to purchase more color more often.) Keep the tint on your hair for 35 minutes on the roots and then pull through the ends for the last 10 minutes.”

Step 2: Shampoo and condition. Apply the box conditioner, which is formulated to help soften the hair. This should return moisture to the inside of the cuticle/outer layer of hair.

Step 3: Dry hair. Dry hair until it is about 90 percent dry.

NOTE: “100% dry leads to more dryness, possible brittleness (breakage) when applying the highlight product. You can apply color onto damp hair.”

Step 4: Decisions, decisions. Determine whether you would like chunky or finer highlights.

Step 5: Highlight. Read and follow the directions. Apply the highlighting material according to where you would like to see the color fall around your head or face.

Two-tone hairstyle, photo courtesy of David Kitchenham, morgueFileTIP 1: Patience – “DO NOT BE IN A RUSH. Lightening materials (bleach) have to take your hair through the different stages of lightening. Brown hair goes from brown through brown/red to red to orange/red to orange to gold to banana yellow to a pale buttery color. So, DO NOT BE IN A HURRY to remove the highlights.”

TIP 2: Color saturation – “If color is not lifting, hit it with heat from a hood hair dryer or sit outside in the heat. Direct sun can fade the new color.”

TIP 3: Cleansing – “Shampoo and condition. As I state in my DVDs, condition only from mid-shaft through ends and only rinse for 10 seconds; otherwise you are only conditioning your drain.”

TIP 4: Education – “Plug in a Style Like A Pro DVD and Voila!…Great bi-color, great shiny style and a MORE confident you!”

Two-tone hairstyles can be hip and trendy or classic and sophisticated. These two-color or highlighted styles look great on women of all different ages. What you wear and how you style your hair also play into the overall impression that you make. We hope you enjoy your new and exciting two-tone hairstyle!


About the Expert:
Sandy Taylor-Furst is President and CEO of Style Like A Pro,


How to Blow Dry Hair for a Straight and Smooth Look

Want that silky, touchable hair that Pantene Pro V and other expensive products claim their shampoo will give you? Look no further—you can have that flawless look by spending only a few extra minutes blow-drying your hair! Ditch the designer hair products and follow these simple instructions to give your hair the same beautiful look and soft feeling:

Blow drying your hair gives it a more controlled look. You can add volume to your hair easily when blow drying, simply by turning your head upside-down as you dry your hair. For a straighter, smooth and shiny look, follow these steps when blow drying your hair.

– Towel

– Hairdryer

– Brush / Comb

– Claw-Clip or barrette

– Your usual styling products or a small amount of hair gel for touch-ups
(These may not be necessary after you try this tip.)

Step 1: Twist hair up into a towel in order to remove excess water. How long you keep it wrapped in the towel is up to you—my hair is long, so time permitting, I keep it like that for about 15 minutes.

Step 2: Comb out any tangles and part hair as you wish.

Step 3: Gather hair and twist except for a thin layer at the base of your head. Pin hair atop your head with the clip or barrette.

Step 4: Begin drying the loose hair. (You can use a lower heat setting if you do not have a time restriction.) When hair is complete dry, turn off hairdryer and brush or comb hair.

Step 5: Remove clip and take another section of hair to be dried. Re-twist your hair and replace pin.

Step 6: Repeat step 4 as necessary. For thicker hair, you may need to separate hair into sections several times. My hair is of a medium thickness but long, so I separate it into 3 sections.

Step 7: Once hair is completely dry, brush and style as you wish, or leave it down, as it should be less dried-out and more manageable. If your hair is not completely frizz-free and cooperative, rub a small amount of gel in your hands (a nickel’s worth or a quarter’s worth) and gently smooth over your hair, paying close attention to the ends.

Drying and styling time will vary based on your hair’s thickness and length. Though I do not always have enough time to use this drying technique, it works wonders for my hair for those special occasions!

Approximate time required: 10-20 minutes, depending on thickness and length of hair.

20 Ways to Relieve Stress

A hot bath can do wonders for the body, mind, and spirit...

When did daily life become so hard? Between jobs or school, household chores, typical errands, raising a family, and maintaining general sanity, days are packed to the gills with more than even Wonder Woman could handle! Here are 20 tips to reduce and relieve stress in your daily life. There’s no time like the springtime to start busting your stress!

To combat all those days brimming with things to do, people to see and places to be, I’ve come up with a list of fun, relaxing and enjoyable things to defeat the stressors in your life this spring. Check them out and see if any of these stress-busters might give you the peace of mind and solace your life is missing.

1. Put on comfy clothes and snuggle up with a good book.

2. And some chocolates.

3. And a cup of tea with some cookies.

4. Take a bubble bath.

5. Give yourself a nice pedicure to pamper yourself AND get your toes in shape for sandals.

6. Determine a maximum amount of money that you are “allowed” to spend and go shopping for new shoes. And a purse. And clothes…

7. Stop and smell the roses.


8. Make some popcorn and watch a movie.

9. Enjoy a candlelit dinner.

10. Listen to soft, soothing music.

11. Or, if you really need to get out some frustration, listen to rock and roll or hard core music.

12. Play an instrument – especially guitar, if you know how.

13. Ask someone else to play for you if you don’t know how.

14. Take an entire night to yourself, to be completely worthless. Order take-out, walk around in your jammies and just enjoy having nothing to do.

15. Exercise! Go for a run, walk, jog, bike ride or other athletic activity. Get some friends together and play tennis or golf, have a catch or do something new and exciting in the world of sports.

16. Go on a boat ride. Canoe, sailboat, yacht, kayak – it matters not the kind of boat but that you have a nice, relaxing time on the water.

17. Take a nap or go to bed early. No lie – if you are feeling completely zonked from a tough week, your body will love you for it.

18. Make some “comfort food.” Cupcakes, cookies, cakes, pies…anything sweet and scrumptious is fair game!

19. Get together with your girlfriends and commiserate. When you all share your dilemmas and get the frustration out in the open, it’s a pretty sure thing that you’ll be feeling better in no time.

20. Go on a vacation. Whether you leave for a week or you take a five-minute mental vacation, sometimes an escape from reality is all it really takes to re-energize and rejuvenate yourself.


Reducing and relieving stress should be a vital part of your week. Remember to take time for yourself whenever possible. No matter what types of activities – or lack thereof – refuel you and rejuvenate you after a tough workday or workweek, remember that relaxation is only a good night’s sleep away.

Do-It-Yourself French Manicure

French manicure, courtesy of Mary A. Pen, morgueFileWant professional looking nails without spending your day’s pay in the salon? With some practice and a little patience, you can enjoy fancy nails anytime you want for just the cost of your nail polish! An at-home French manicure is the perfect way to get your nails ready for a new season, special occasions, or just for a change from the norm. Feel beautiful and chic sporting your French manicure. Learn how to do it yourself with these simple tips.

Their pale pink base and bright white tips characterize the ever-popular French manicures, which are a common request at nail salons everywhere. Professional nail stylists may paint your nails alone or they may apply fake tips if you desire. Based on your personal preferences, a nail designer will give your nails a strengthening and conditioning workout prior to painting them. If you get your nails done with fake tips, you may have to make a trip back to the salon to get your French tips “refilled” when your nails have grown noticeably.


Keeping longer, healthy nails will be most conducive to sporting a French manicure. To complete your own French manicure, begin with the following steps to prepare your nails for the procedure.

1. Using a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover, wipe off any old nail polish prior to painting nails. Wash hands and soak in warm water for a few moments.

2. With an orangewood stick, gently push back the cuticles so they are all even with each other once the water has softened your skin.

3. With nail clippers, beauty scissors or a nail file, shape your nails evenly.

4. With a steady hand, carefully paint only the tip of each nail with a white hue. A second coat may be desirable, depending on the thickness and opaqueness of the polish. Allow polish to dry between coats.


5. Using a slightly transparent pink or nude color, paint the entire nail once the tips have dried. A second coat may be necessary. Allow nails to dry thoroughly.

6. Once all the coats have dried, apply a clear topcoat to protect your new French manicure. To lengthen the manicure’s lifespan, make an effort to paint a clear coat on each night. Be sure it has ample time to dry completely.

7. If you are feeling especially creative and ambitious, kick off your shoes and match your tootsies to your fingertips!

This procedure is best performed on a lazy morning or evening when no other pressing errands or tasks will get in the way. After painting your nails, avoid doing things with your hands while they dry.

For an easier painting technique, check the beauty section of a drug store or superstore for a French manicure kit. The set should contain, at the very least, nail polish in white and pink or beige and a clear topcoat. Some manicure sets – like COVERGIRL’s French Manicure Kit – will contain tiny, sticky nail guides. These make the manicure process 100 times easier by allowing you to place the guides on each nail individually, leaving a small margin where the polish can spill outside the tip without tainting the rest of the nail.


TIP: If you are getting a French manicure for your wedding, prom, or other special event, keep the style of your nails in mind. If you get a small design painted on your nails, or if you get a tiny decal or rhinestone or other applique, consider the direction of the design. If you’ll be walking down the aisle arm-in-arm with your dad on your wedding day, and exiting the church arm-in-arm with your husband, request that the design be painted from the thumb side outward. To visualize this, hold your hand as if you’ve linked arms with someone. You’ll want the design applied so that it stretches downward.

As the holidays approach, let your crazy side out by concocting a wildly modified French manicure – green and white for St. Patrick’s Day, pastel shades for Easter, black and orange for Halloween and red and green for Christmas. Have fun and remember, even if you find the do-it-yourself French manicure difficult at first, practice will provide you with the skills you need to create beautiful and perfect manicures all year long!

Centerpieces for Tropical or Beach Weddings

Choosing decorations for your wedding can be quite the daunting task. You’ve got flowers, candles, miles and miles of tulle, and of course, centerpieces. For many brides, centerpieces are a fun and unique way to express their artistry and creativity. Can you hear the ocean?The table centerpieces often match the theme and colors of the wedding. If you are planning a tropical or beach wedding theme, these ideas may help you or help to spark another great wedding centerpiece idea.

Continue reading Centerpieces for Tropical or Beach Weddings

The Perfect 12-Step Program: Perfect Pedicures at Home

Pedicures at home are easy and affordable.

Ready to break into spring and get those toes into strappy sandals, flip-flops, and yes, even bare feet? Polish away the dry skin and bid winter goodbye with a pampering, relaxing at-home pedicure. Just follow this fabulous 12-step pedicure program to picture-perfect, spring ready feet!

To get started, gather the following materials and make some room in your bathroom or even in front of the television if you’re feeling comfortable with the techniques!


– Basin or tub
– Foot Soak, Epsom salt or bath salts
– Pumice footstone
– Small brush
– Nail polish remover / cotton balls
– Nail polish
– Base coat for nails
– Top coat for nails
– Clippers
– File
– Orangewood stick (Cuticle stick)
– Lotion
– Foot scrub treatment

Whether you are in the mood to pamper yourself or just starting to get dolled up, an at-home pedicure can be one of the most soothing and relaxing body treatments after a long day. If you find yourself surrounded by unavoidable stress factors day-to-day, wash your cares away with a pedicure!

The last couple of days remaining before a special vacation would also be a great time to perform an at-home pedicure. Just think of all the fun you’ll have dancing around in the sand and surf, showing off those pretty, pedicured toes!

Paint your nails for spring and summer.

Getting beautiful, soft, and sexy feet is simple if you are willing to put a little bit of time into it. Just follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Begin to fill a basin (or your bathtub) with several inches of warm water. Add desired amount of foot soak, bath salts or Epsom salt so that it dissolves in the water as the tub fills.

Step 2: While the tub is filling, remove any old polish from your toes with nail polish remover and cotton balls. If necessary, clip and file nails to desired shape and length.

Step 3: Grab a good book or magazine, turn on some music, or just sit back and enjoy the warm water on your tired feet. Soak for as long as you like, but at least 5-10 minutes.

Step 4: Using the small brush, gently buff one foot first and then the other. This will help to remove some dead skin cells and also to soften your feet.

Step 5: Using a foot scrub (Freeman’s makes a great one—Barefeet: Plum and Pumice foot scrub), massage the cream onto your feet, paying special attention to your heels and any rough spots. This will further soften and exfoliate.

Step 6: A pumice footstone can work wonders for dry and rough feet! Use this inexpensive extra to eliminate remaining rough spots. Dip feet after this step.

Step 7: Remove both feet from the tub and dry feet with towel. Massage your favorite lotion onto them. (Some companies even have a line of foot massage lotions!)

Step 8: Using orangewood stick, gently push your cuticles back along the nail. They should be supple due to the soaking.

Step 9: If you wish to paint your toenails, you can use toe separators to facilitate the process. Apply a base coat of nail polish to fill in the ridges and uneven surfaces. Base coats are generally clear or slightly opaque and they help to strengthen the nail to avoid breakage.

Step 10: Choose your desired shade of nail polish and apply. Allow first coat to dry and repeat. (Hint: For touch-ups, dip a Q-tip in the nail polish remover and gently swab away the unwanted color.)

Step 11: Apply a crystal-clear topcoat to add shine and to protect color from chipping.

Step 12: Enjoy your smooth, soft feet and beautified toes! You are now ready to sport your favorite sandals or cozy up at home in your comfiest slippers. Whatever the occasion, your feet will look and feel great!

Approximate time required: 45 minutes to an hour, depending on personal preference

Once you’ve completed all the steps, you are ready to enjoy having soft, smooth and sexy feet for a couple of weeks. Keep an eye on your nail polish to make sure it doesn’t crack or chip. Once your toes start to show signs of wear and tear, it may be a good time to perform another pedicure. If you don’t have time to go through all 12 steps, you can always remove the old nail polish and apply a new coat at least once every two weeks.

Enjoy your at-home pedicure. Now get out there and show off your pretty toes!

Romantic Summer Vacation Getaways in the United States

Catch a breath-taking sunset.The warm sand beneath your toes, the gentle lapping of salty water tickling your feet – what could be better than a seashore vacation to escape your cares? In today’s day and age, romantic vacations need not always consist of stereotypical tropical vacations in lively resort towns. Start planning your next summer vacation now – after all, there’s no time like the present to start day dreaming about a wonderful escape from reality!

Your favorite

activities and pastimes pave the way to your ultimate summer vacation. Water sports, hiking and exploring, relaxing and catching a few rays – you and your sweetheart can do it all in any number of vacation destinations across the United States and beyond.

Take in the sights…

Itching to skip the country for a couple of days? Take a blissful trip to Niagara Falls. The falls emit feelings of tremendous exhilaration and wonder. Taking in the sites together and holding hands while strolling through the caverns beneath the falls rouse closeness between couples that visit this romantic attraction.

A cruise on the Maid of the Mist is a must-do, welcoming tiny water droplets upon the heads, faces and clothing of those who choose not to wear a raincoat or poncho. When evening falls, the light show and fireworks displays paint the skies atop the falls, truly inspiring a passionate ambiance all around.

Escape luxury while you’re at it…

For adventurous couples, few things are more amorous than falling asleep in each other’s arms beneath a midnight blue starry sky. A camping trip to a mountainous or lakeside park or campground may be the perfect escape from reality.

Your campsite for two becomes your palace and the hotdogs and bacon you grill over an open flame are the feast of the gods. Roughing it with your sweetie can bring out the softer side of your relationship. Challenge your honey to a fishing contest, make up a goofy scavenger hunt or see who can spot the most exotic wildlife creature. No one else is around to invade your personal moments together, so enjoy your time together and just be yourselves. When night falls, you can relax the hours away, snuggled up close before a crackling campfire.

Get a little wild…

Tired of the same old beach, mountains, resorts? Confer with your sweetie and see about booking a trip with reckless abandon. Check out availability for Las Vegas, New Orleans or another well-known hotspot and prepare to cut loose. Pack some extra cash for the casinos and the nightlife, plan to stay up till all hours and enjoy some fine cocktails and sumptuous meals.

If, however, these two carefree towns present too much of a carefree atmosphere, consider flying out west, renting a car and embarking upon an adventure to visit some great American landmarks! If you’ve yet to see the Grand Canyon or any of the national parks, what better company than your true love to accompany you on the adventure of a lifetime? Be sure to pack a number of US road atlases, credit card for filling up the gas tank and a camera and notebook to document all your wonderful discoveries together.

Take in the scenery...

Too busy for a fulltime getaway? Try a fun daytrip!
Sometimes career paths and personal lifestyles do not always allow for a weeklong vacation from the norm. Don’t shortchange yourself by foregoing a vacation altogether. Plan a few daytrips here and there with romantic activities interspersed throughout your summer. Couples can enjoy each other’s company, even without leaving the comforts of home. Here are a few options if you can’t spare several days away at a time:

• Go horseback riding.

• Challenge your partner to some miniature golf and top it off with some ice cream.

• Find a drive-in movie theatre.

• Go on a “real” date – candlelit dinner and dancing, movie and don’t forget dessert!

• Visit an amusement park.

• Take a daytrip to the seashore and walk along the beach collecting seashells.

• Double date with another couple and plan a night out to a show or concert.

• Organize a picnic for two. Fly a kite for old-time’s sake.

• Visit a local park and take a lazy walk, reminiscing about your times together.

• Check out a museum or attraction you’ve both wanted to see but hadn’t had time.

• Tour a local brewery and have lunch with a fresh brew.

• Cheer on your favorite sports team at an away location.

• Find a quiet place to relax and watch the clouds together.

No matter where you and your sweetheart decide to go for summer vacation, remember that it is your special time together. Put any stress factors and underlying issues out of sight and out of mind. Focus on the closeness of your relationship and how much you care for each other.

Remember to pack a blanket and pillow so you can enjoy the stars and don’t forget a camera to catch some of your vacation adventures on film!

Review: Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash

Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body WashLuxury in the shower doesn’t have to come at a steep price. Just take Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash for example. This gentle body scrub infuses delightful coconut fragrance with apricot seeds for ultimate cleansing, moisturizing, and rejuvenation of your skin.

This pretty potion gleams with pearly undertones and gold glimmers streaming through every small squirt. The fragrance is divine, offering a whiff that is subtle and lightly fruity. Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash uses a formula containing real coconut extract and apricot seeds to provide skin with a soft and clean, refreshed sensation following cleansing.

Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash is effective at cleansing and exfoliating, yet gentle enough for sensitive areas and for everyday use. I liked the product so much that I do plan for everyday use, and in fact, I will be buying another bottle of it once I use this one up. Although, the size of the bottle is large as far as body washes go, so I expect it will be lasting a nice duration of time before I need to replace this container.

To use this product, just pour a small amount directly into your hands or a wet bath pouf or loofah. Apply the body wash to your skin, gently massaging it to cleanse and exfoliate. Rinse and enjoy the sensuous coconut fragrance and the supreme sense of clean and the soft, refreshed skin that is yours for the rest of the day. The sparkles and apricot seeds rinse off, taking with them any dry skin cells and leaving your skin soft and smooth.

In my own humble opinion, the product looks and feels nothing like a body cleanser you would be able to buy for under $3. It is, quite simply, luxury in a bottle. If you, like me, enjoy coconut fragrance and pretty, sparkly things, try Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash.

Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body WashPROS:
• Affordable, low price
• Exfoliates
• Generous portion
• Gentle for everyday use
• Moisturizes
• Pretty and luxurious
• Smells great!

After a week of use, I have no complaints or concerns with this product. I highly recommend it.

Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash is new to the Suave Skin Therapy line as of February 2008. It retails for $2.49 to $3.49 and is available in a generous 12-ounce flip-top bottle for ease of use.

The Suave Skin Therapy Collection also includes:
• Suave Skin Therapy Complete with Vitamins Body Wash, enriched with Vitamins E, A, and B5, as well as silkening moisturizers
• Suave Skin Therapy Cocoa & Shea Butter Body Wash, containing rich emollients for gentle cleansing and moisturizing
• Suave Skin Therapy Body Moisturizers

Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash and other products in the Suave Skin Therapy Collection are available at drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets nationwide. Products are also available in six-packs at

For the perfect pairing of coconut in the shower, use Suave Skin Therapy Daily Exfoliating Body Wash with Clairol Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner (click for product review). You’ll love how the delicate coconut fragrance dances together in your shower and how it leaves you feeling refreshed and invigorated, and ready for a nice day on the beach OR a grueling day at work.

Fun Gifts for Newlyweds

When your favorite couple decides to tie the knot, a gift on their bridal registry just may not cut it. If your friendship is especially close, you may wish to present the happy pair with a gift that comes with a more personal message. Give the bride and groom a special wedding present that speaks volumes for your friendship and for all the fun and excitement you wish them in their new life together.

Be prepared to celebrate your pals’ union with a fun gift that lightens the mood and adds to the relaxation of their honeymoon. Here are some great “outside the box” gifts to consider for newlyweds.

For the Great Outdoors

If your beloved buds enjoy everything that is Mother Nature, a fun and functional outdoorsy present may be in store. Gifts for the great outdoors can offer many years of fun in the sun and utter relaxation.

Here are some suggestions for an outdoorsy gift for your friends:

A grill – For those wonderful summertime burgers and hotdogs, a nice grill really does the trick. Ownership of a grill also inspires barbeque parties and other fun get-togethers.

A two-person tent – For the adventurous duo, a tent comes in especially handy for weekends away and overnight treks to new lands. This gift enables travel and the making of countless memories in nearby or distant vacation destinations.

A wine backpack – these often contain their own picnic blanket, wine glasses, corkscrew and bottle topper, not to mention the spacious backpack with storage enough for at least one or two bottles of wine. Bonus – this is a very romantic gift to boot!

For the Home

If your newlyweds enjoy time at home in the kitchen or relaxing, a unique gift for the home may be a nice treat. Depending on the budget, many fun and useful household items don’t even cross the minds of the new brides and grooms to be.

Here are a few home items that might strike your fancy:

A flat-screen television (The Ultimate Gift) – Guys and gals alike will enjoy a high definition flat-screen television, complete with his and hers remote control. (Hers when he isn’t using it!) While considerably pricier than most wedding gifts, this gift item will always be cherished and enjoyed thanks to you.

A fondue set – If your friends haven’t already registered for a Fondue set, consider this as an option. Molten chocolate, stringy melted cheese draped over potatoes laden with bacon, broccoli dressed with a thin layer of cheddar – if that doesn’t make your mouth water, move on. Fondue is a very romantic gift that can be enjoyed by the couple as well as by dinner guests and party guests.

A video game system – Even as we grow older, it is still important to keep the child alive in our hearts. If you decide to get your friends a video game system, be prepared that the groom may appreciate this gift just a tad bit more than the bride will.

For the Honeymoon

If you insist on being the fun friend with the wild and crazy ideas, getting your friends a gift for their honeymoon might be right up your alley.

Here are a few ideas for suitcase-worthy honeymoon gifts:

A new digital camera – If you think your friends are in the market for a new camera but just haven’t had the time or the cash to pick one up, give this avenue a fair shot. A spiffy new digital camera will capture so much of the fun and adventure on their honeymoon.

Snorkeling gear is a fun and adventurous gift.Snorkeling gear – If your pals are traveling to a tropical location, snorkeling is probably one of the items on their list of fun things to do. Make sure you include a disposable underwater camera for priceless memories!

Luggage, of course! – If the couple has not already registered for luggage, a nice set of matching luggage could be just the ticket to a wonderful start for their happy honeymoon. If they do have luggage, a beach bag full of fun accessories like “Just Married” flip-flops, a Frisbee, and other sand and surf items may be the perfect alternative.

No matter what gift you decide to get for your friends, remember that they will especially cherish your continued friendship. Express your feelings in a wedding card that captures the emotion of the day. Include a few pictures of the couple before they got engaged, or during their engagement, if you feel so inclined.

Remember that the wedding is a very special time to wish the bride and groom the best for their future together. Your love and support for them is the best gift of all!

Personal Wedding Gifts from the Groom to His Bride

A gift she'll always remember...As the love of your life prepares to walk down the aisle to begin your life together, your spirits are high and emotions run deep. To make this moment and the entire day even more special and memorable, many couples choose to exchange personal wedding gifts. Wedding gifts from the groom to the bride can come in all shapes and sizes. Gifts from groom to bride can be jewelry items for her to wear on the wedding day, flowers to brighten her morning, or something for the couple to enjoy in their new home together. Gifts from the groom to the bride can be just about anything that suits the couple, but here are a few suggestions to help get you started.

Couples often swap gifts prior to the actual wedding ceremony. Many choose to exchange presents either at the rehearsal dinner or by way of a messenger on the wedding day itself. In some cases, brides and grooms may choose to trade gifts during the festivities of their wedding day, or sometimes even at the conclusion of the event, once they finally find themselves alone together.

The nature of the gift is a very personal decision. Your bride may not be expecting a large show of emotion or an expensive gift. On the other hand, maybe she’s been hinting around about a paid of diamond studs or a sparkly new necklace. Whatever the case, make sure the gift comes from your heart.

If the budget allows, any gift of jewelry can play the role of a precious part of your wedding day. Diamond earrings will achieve great visibility in almost all the pictures, and they’ll sparkle brilliantly as you sweep her around the dance floor. Likewise with a necklace or tennis bracelet. Think about the message and sentiment you are hoping to achieve, and that, along with the cost, should help to guide your decision.

Here are a few tips for the perfect gift for your bride, according to your own preferences and budget restraints.

On a Shoestring Budget
• A handwritten love letter, spritzed with your cologne
• A book of poetry, highlighted with some phrases you feel relate to your relationship
• A CD with a song you wrote just for her, if you are a musician
• A greeting card with sentiments of how you feel this day
• A handwritten note about how you can’t wait to have her for your wife
• A mixed CD of all your favorite songs
• A poem you wrote for her yourself
• A photo album or photo frame with a favorite picture of the two of you
• A single long stem red rose (“I love you”) proclaiming your love
• A single long stem white rose (“Happy love”) proclaiming your love and excitement for the future

Traditional and Key to the Wedding DayFlowers are timeless.
• A dozen or more beautiful red roses
• A special necklace for her to wear
• A string of pearls for her to wear
• Diamond earrings – girls love them. (make sure her ears are pierced!)
• Fresh-cut flowers with a love note
• Jewelry box and an all-important item for her to wear on your wedding day, with a note that you will be filling this up!
• Monogrammed or embroidered handkerchief
• Tennis bracelet

Fun and Adventurous
• Golf clubs, if you think she’d like them and if you play
• Expensive name brand sunglasses you know she wants but wouldn’t buy for herself
• MP3 player, portable DVD player, or other fun electronic device
• Something to use on the honeymoon, like snorkeling gear or a beach bag with flip flops, a soft new beach towel, and a book you know she’s been wanting

The Sky’s the Limit
• A full set of matching jewelry
• A special collectible that reminds you of the two of you and your relationship
• A special handbag that you know she’s been wanting
• A portrait, print, painting, or sculpture by her favorite artist
• Cruise tickets booked for a future vacation for the two of you


A Sweet Surprise:

My husband got me a ring almost identical to my wedding band as my wedding gift from him. The bands are shaped a little bit like the letter “V” just at the top, and the one closest to my heart is the wedding band. Then, my engagement ring goes in the middle, and the wedding gift ring fits on the other side of the diamond, creating a perfect symmetry. Each band has nine smaller diamonds in a channel setting. When you put the two wedding day rings together, they fit seamlessly, and the inscription inside is a line from our wedding song: “When I fall in love…” (wedding band), “It will be forever…” (wedding gift). This gift blew me away and took me completely by surprise.

I understand stackable rings like these are not always an option, but the surprise ring set is a very sentimental gift that I will treasure forever.

If your wedding budget is pushing its final boundary, the bride’s and groom’s gifts to each other could be one corner you can cut. This is a time-honored tradition, but it is not practiced in all circles. Some couples consider their wedding bands and the honeymoon itself as their gifts to each other.


If you don’t have the cash but you still want to do something special for your sweetheart on the day of your wedding, write her a special love letter or make her a handcrafted greeting card to express your love for her. Send it by way of one of her bridesmaids before your wedding ceremony and your words will surely touch her heart.

The Benefits and Basics of Pilates

Pilates - exercise for body, mind, and spirit

Concentration, control, flexibility, alertness, shape, alignment, strength…. These wonderful characteristics unite in an effort to give you the body you’ve always wanted, merely using your strong mind and your determination. Pilates is a fun and exciting way to get your body to be in great shape and to improve your flexibility. The unification of mind, body and spirit in a coordinated effort will produce the results that you seek as you weave Pilates into your life.

Pilates, founded by Joseph Pilates, offer a focus on the strength of one’s “powerhouse,” which includes abdominal muscles, lower back, buttocks and inner thighs. Designed to follow a natural flow from one position and exercise to the next, Pilates typically features a low number of repetitions in a controlled setting.

By working with low reps and many diverse positions and exercises, those who practice Pilates are often able to improve their body shape without becoming overly exhausted or losing interest. Pilates has also been designed for those who lead busy lifestyles. Without missing a beat during the daily grind, professionals can practice Pilates in 20 minutes or less from the comfort of home.

One of the keys to a successful Pilates program is directing your focus to the appropriate element, essentially your “powerhouse.” By allowing your mind and body to work together, you ultimately introduce visualization into your workout. Try picturing yourself as the object or perfectly in the desired position, and you will improve your posture and enhance your physical strength, not to mention your figure!

Some of the great benefits of Pilates include:
• Body alignment
• Body shape
• Flexibility
• Mental alertness
• Muscle tone
• Posture
• Renewed energy
• Slimming effects
• Stress relief and management

By learning Pilates, you will discover many things about yourself that may have been hidden behind a busy lifestyle. To achieve the most success with your Pilates workouts, you must focus on your “center,” or “powerhouse.”

Concentrate on your breathing, deep breaths in and out, keeping rhythm and clearing your mind. You will also need to focus on the desired positions and movements, striving for precision even if your body cries out in slight discomfort. Maintain control and highly focused concentration. Let each exercise and position flow into the next.

Work your powerhouse. Find your center!Lastly, imagine your body is a rectangle from your shoulders to your hips. With this rectangle serving as your “frame,” be conscious of your frame throughout the workout and try to stay within your frame for best results.

For Pilates to have an effective impact on your body, you must commit to a regular schedule of workouts. You will probably need to workout at least once or twice a week for several weeks before you notice any changes in your body. For best results, consider adding a cardio workout a few times throughout the week.

To get started in Pilates, you first need to make a commitment to yourself. You can read and learn from books, but unless you put what you learn into practice, it isn’t going to do you any good. You can rent, buy or borrow workout tapes and DVDs, but you’ve got to follow a regular routine in order to achieve the benefits of Pilates. Finally, you can join a class that meets weekly or attend a gym where you can drop into classes as you please.

Just remember that the results you achieve are largely tied to the commitment and persistence that you put forth. Your dedication is the key that will take you to the next level!

Continue reading The Benefits and Basics of Pilates

First Date Ideas – Adventure, Excitement, and Intimacy

The most nerve-wracking moments of a new relationship are arguably the last few moments before your first date begins. When you barely know someone or even when you’ve known that person for a long time but finally decide to take things to a new level, the first date can be stressful, intimidating, and awkward. But it doesn’t have to be!

Check out these pointers for fun-filled first dates of all kinds—you’ll be so busy enjoying yourself that you’ll forget to be nervous!

First Dates for the Adventurer
Go for a horseback ride!If you find yourself having a hard time sitting still for more than five minutes, these date location options may be just right for you. If active is your lifestyle and energetic is your middle name, try these on for size when your interest lies in someone of similar interests….

Grab some bikes and go mountain biking or for a leisurely trip through the park, throw a pack together and go backpacking, hiking or horseback riding along a scenic trail, or head off to the nearest amusement park. Excitement in the water is sure to ensue if you opt to go tubing, jet skiing, or paddle boating. For a slightly more romantic first date: go sail boating!


First Dates for the Athlete
Foster a little healthy competition with your new love interest and challenge him or her to a grueling tennis match, a few rounds of golf, or have a good old-fashioned catch with a baseball. Need more exertion than that? Consider going for a tour of the town on rollerblades or find a parking lot and grab a crate, a ball and two hockey sticks and see who can score the most goals. Chances are you’ll both drop the gloves in no time!

Is the chance of rain threatening your outdoor festivities? No matter—take your competitive spirits inside and shoot some pool, throw some darts or indulge in some video games. Who says you’re too old to have a good time at the arcade?


Sophisticated First Dates
Care to swap some intellectual tidbits or compare tastes in fine art and history? You can learn a lot more about a person by spending some time together at a museum or an art gallery. Figure out what he or she likes, and perhaps you can even use your own artistic talent to create a work of art as a surprise on a future date with this person.Catch an art festival or visit a museum.

Another option for a more refined first date: Accompany one another to a natural or historical landmark in or near your community. Immerse yourselves in the natural wonders of a nearby park or other local attraction.

More First Dates….