10 Sweet and Romantic, Crafty Valentine’s Gifts

Each year, we wonder what to get our significant other for one of the most romantic days of the year. When chocolates or cologne just won’t do, we try to think outside the box for a much better Valentine’s Day gift. From clothes to movies to small electronics, nothing seems quite right. You may be a procrastinator, waiting till the day before, or even the day of, to make your final selection. Be careful, lest you end up with yet another box of chocolates and a greeting card!

If all that shopping for breathtaking Valentine’s Day presents is giving you a headache, relax and put your natural creativity and talents to use instead! Here are ten creative gifts you can make or do yourself:

1. If you are musically inclined, compose a song for your one-and-only. Personally, I melt when someone sings to me or plays an instrument for me… Who doesn’t love to be serenaded? Writing a song for someone you love is perhaps one of the most sensitive and intimate gifts you can give, and it will surely be cherished and appreciated.

To add a more tangible artistic element for your Valentine’s Day gift, create a special CD case with pictures of you and your sweetheart, and don’t forget to print the lyrics out in a little booklet. You may want to perform the song live, but giving a hard copy of your hard work only adds to the impact of your gift.

2. If music isn’t exactly your thing, consider writing a poem for your mate. The feeling and meaning that can be intricately woven throughout the lines of poetry is unmatched in emotion by many other signs of affection. If time allows, be especially creative and use a software imaging program like PhotoShop to dress up your poem with beautiful graphics.

Not the computer savvy type? Buy a picture frame and some matting to create your own work of art! Print out or nicely scribe your poem on a fancy piece of paper, then apply the matting, fit everything inside the frame, and you’ve got one beautiful and personalized Valentine’s Day gift!

3. If your talents lie more on the artistic side of things, design some artwork. A beautiful sketch or drawing that you yourself design would be a wonderful sign of your love. Frame it if you wish, or roll it up and fasten it with a nice ribbon like an ancient scroll.

4. To capture your memories in a more tangible format, consider making a scrapbook or memory book for your sweetheart. All those photos from way back, ticket stubs, dried flowers, and your own personal special touches can culminate into a very thoughtful and sentimental gift. Or, if you don’t have time for all the bells and whistles of a true, traditional scrapbook, look into digital scrapbooking. It’s one of the latest and greatest ways to capture your memories with ease!

5. If you enjoy cooking and baking or find yourself particularly good at either one, make use of your talent. Make your sweetie a mouth-watering dinner or a scrumptious dessert. Add candlelight, mood music, or your own special touches to romanticize it even more. For twice the fun, see if your honey is interested in cooking together. You can have a great time while being romantic together as you add and mix ingredients and enjoy taste testing the results. What a fun Valentine’s Day activity!


6. Create a calendar with photos of the two of you. It may be February already, but there are still ten and a half good months left in the year. You can create a photo calendar easily at a site like the Kodak Online Gallery or Snapfish. If money is an issue, you can always create the calendar on your own computer and print it out at home. This Valentine’s gift is one your sweetheart can enjoy all year long!

7. Make a music compilation filled with songs that make you think of your honey. Chances are, he or she will love it and most likely will play it when you are not around or when you are on their mind. Make a copy for yourself, too, just in case you find yourself missing your love and wishing you were together at that moment.

For the crafty approach, design a CD case and cover for your sweetie. Don’t forget to make a little booklet with a list of all the songs and artists you decided to feature. If you are feeling especially ambitious, add a little quote as to why you selected each of these songs.

8. Construct a coupon booklet of little freebies you are willing to give your partner—free back massages, dinner at a favorite hotspot, a home-cooked meal, a night where he or she is boss, full control of the remote, a fill-in-the-blank coupon…you get the idea! Be creative, but personalize it according to your relationship. Draw little images to dress up each coupon, or add stickers for a fun, special touch.

To save some cutting and gluing, you can also craft your coupon book on the computer using one of many different software applications. Print it out, staple it together and you are ready to present a sweet and thoughtful handmade gift that lasts beyond Valentine’s Day.

9. Using glass paints and a mug, glass, or vase of your choosing, craft a stained-glass work of art. If you are not totally confident with your painting and designing abilities, find an image you would like to use (or for words and phrases, type whatever you would like the glass to say on your word processor and print the document out) and tape it on the inside of the glass so you can easily trace over it with the paint.

Be sure to allow enough time for the item to dry and for the paint to set before giving your masterpiece to the recipient. For a sweet touch once the glass is dry, you can fill it with your mate’s favorite candy.

10. Crochet or knit a blanket, scarf or other specialty item for your honey. Handmade gifts mean a lot because much thought and time have been invested. If you’re crafting an afghan or blanket, you will want to plan ahead several months to ensure you complete it on time. Perhaps this is a project for another year!

Bachelorette Party: Scavenger Hunt

Why do the bachelors get to have all the fun? Not anymore, with this clever bachelorette scavenger hunt game for the bride-to-be! Whether she’s your friend, your cousin or your sister, make this a night the bachelorette will never forget. No purchase necessary, no strings attached…just some good, old-fashioned fun for a bachelorette party extravaganza. A bachelorette party scavenger hunt game can keep you laughing for hours…. This bachelorette party and bride-to-be scavenger hunt is sure to knock your socks off!

Bachelorette party time is something just about every bride anticipates. A bachelorette party is a chance for one last night out with the girls as a single, unmarried woman. Granted the bride is soon to be married, but the bachelorette party time is a chance to experience for one last time what it feels like to go out and have a carefree good time. Create some hilarious memories with a bachelorette scavenger hunt!

Gather together the girls for a night on the town and be sure to have a designated driver if drinking is in the agenda. You might want to adorn your bride-to-be with a cute or mischievous veil to wear out, or maybe even a suggestive T-shirt proclaiming her last night of freedom. Whatever the case, prepare to send your girlfriend on a chase for some hilarious items and situations! Bride-to-Be Scavenger Hunt List and Dare Game: Safety in numbers, the more the merrier, and may the best lady win!

Put your gal-pal to work with these innocent, obnoxious, and embarrassing objects and situations in the bachelorette party scavenger hunt. OK, if you are feeling particularly generous, the rest of the female crew can join in the fun to see how many items the gals can check off the bachelorette scavenger hunt list of attractions! Make sure someone in the group takes pictures of the fun with each numbered item so the memories live on beyond the buzz.

Last Night Out Do-or-Die List:

1. Get a guy to serenade the bride-to-be. This shouldn’t be too hard if you know the right places to go… like a karaoke bar… or the local dive where you know everyone and their cousin!

2. Get a guy to buy her a drink. This should be an easy one if she has a veil or a T-shirt explicitly stating that she will be off the market very soon. A lot of guys may congratulate the bachelorette and hopefully at least one will offer to buy her a drink. If not, it shouldn’t be tough to get some unsuspecting male to pick up the tab for at least one shot. If alcohol is not part of the evening, opt for a soda or some spring water.

3. Get a guy’s phone number on a napkin. Again, this is child’s play. How old are we again, twelve? Let’s go, ladies, we should be on number five by now!

4. Get a guy to let the bride-to-be wear his hat. First you have to find a guy wearing a hat. Then you have to hope he isn’t superstitious about his sports team and his lucky hat. Once you’ve got that squared away, you’re golden. OK, onto the next project!

5. Get a guy to give up his underwear/ boxers. See, I tried to warn you this was the toughie. But I have faith that you girls will be able to stand up to this demand… after all, there’s a zany guy in any bunch—you just have to find him! Well, and get him to drop his drawers and hand over his loincloth. Good Luck!

6. Meet a guy with the same name as the groom-to-be and get the bride-to-be’s picture taken with him. Just think how great that will look in the scrapbook, with the caption saying, “Jane and John, before the wedding.” Honestly, this could be fun… Just hope your bachelorette pal isn’t marrying someone named “Poindexter” or “Wilfred” or some other unusual name!

7. Do a “Body Shot.” This one is targeted for the bride-to-be, but one of her faithful heroines can bail her out if she blushes or shies away from the notion. If alcohol is not involved in this party, skip to the next item.

8. Find a guy with an accent. Let her get it out of her system now while she is technically single. Many women seem attracted to men with foreign accents, so now is a much better time for her to get past that than on their honeymoon in Australia, Fiji or Jamaica.

9. Find a guy with an out-of state Drivers License. Who knows if it’s a fake ID or not… your only purpose is to find someone who isn’t a townie!

10. Find a guy who shares a love of the bride-to-be’s favorite sports team. (If she doesn’t like sports, she needs to pretend… OK, just kidding! Pick a team amongst the group and search for a fan).

Creative Wedding Centerpieces

Calla LiliesThough they won’t be the center of attention, the decorations that adorn the center of the guests’ tables at a wedding deserve quite a bit of careful contemplation. Wedding centerpieces can be extremely elaborate or subtle and simple. Flowers, candles, and mirrors offer popular options for wedding centerpieces, but your only limitations are your imagination and your budget.

Traditional wedding centerpieces often revolve around floral arrangements, although the modern era welcomes inventive and contemporary styles.

Unleash your creativity and open your mind to new and memorable ideas for unique wedding centerpieces. Some of the most elegant, unusual and unforgettable decorative touches can exist even within a strict budget.

Popular “convertible” items to mix and match for clever and creative wedding centerpieces:
– Candles
– Glass bubble bowls
– Glass dishes/shallow bowls
– Ivy
– Mirrors
– Floating candles
– Foliage/flora

Gather some of the above-mentioned decorations or use your imagination and come up with a creative centerpiece of your own. Often the reception hall may have standard wedding centerpieces available onsite, though they will be more than willing to accommodate your special requests or often, they will credit you for the centerpieces if you opt to create your own. If you are having your wedding reception at a private location, such as your home, a fire hall, park, or other non-commercial location, consider crafting your own wedding centerpieces. Below some ideas are listed for a traditional centerpiece design.

For a traditional, classic and sedate feel for the wedding centerpiece décor, consider:
1. Glass bubble bowls with ivy and a white or colored pillar candle
2. Floral arrangement in a handmade ceramic pot or planter
3. Etched or stained glass vases with a single, long-stemmed flower
4. Mirror with a candle sitting upon it – a sculpted design or a standard pillar candle
5. A small basket of various colored wildflowers to accent the wedding’s color scheme

If thoughts of generic pillar candles and flowers are not your idea of an ideal wedding centerpiece, perhaps you need to spruce things up a bit. Listed below are a few ideas for simple yet stylish wedding centerpieces.

For a simple yet classy wedding centerpiece, try:
1. Shallow glass dish with floating candles and river rocks or marbles
2. Glass bowl with floating candles and petals
3. Small metal pail with seashells, flowers, floating candles, etc.
4. Hand-painted flowerpots with flowers or hand-poured candles inside
5. Small basket of flowers with love poem scrolls

When nature, the great outdoors and the simple pleasures of life are important to you, let them come out for the celebration. Let it be known at each table how much you and your sweetheart enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature and a relaxing moment to revel in peace and serenity. Select a centerpiece based on your own enjoyment of life’s simple gifts. Listed below are some examples that might be helpful to a garden or country themed wedding.


For a garden or country wedding theme or an old-fashioned wedding centerpiece style, consider:
1. Painted birdhouses, color coordinated to match the wedding’s color scheme
2. Dainty teapots or teacups and saucers – you can even place a floating candle inside the cups!
3. Hand-painted or stained wooden clocks
4. Small basket of flowers, herbs, etc.
5. Snow globes – you can get these custom-made or learn how to make them yourself!
6. Christmas ornament – get the traditional glass ball ornament personalized for your special occasion. Do it yourself with a paint-pen to save some money if you wish.

If none of the aforementioned centerpiece ideas knock your socks off, start thinking of the types of centerpieces that guests will talk about for years to come. Think unusual, creative and outrageous and see what you come up with…listed below are a few ideas.

For a contemporary wedding centerpiece, try:
1. Lucky Bamboo plants, to share the luck of the newlyweds to their special guests
2. Bonsai trees
3. Candy jar with Hershey’s™ Hugs and Kisses from the new Mr. and Mrs.
4. Glass bubble bowl with a colorful beta fish (or other type of fish) and pretty stones or glass marbles to match – add floating petals and place a mirror below the bowl for a special effect.
5. Mini mailboxes or wishing wells with notepaper and pens for the guests to leave hints and advice for the newly weds!

Countless themes and color schemes are available for brides and grooms to blend into their weddings, and the freedom to select the perfect centerpiece adds an element of creative control to the planning process. No matter what your budget, creative designs and decorative fashions can be easily prepared and displayed with a little bit of time and careful crafting. Use your imagination and look through wedding magazines to decide upon the perfect wedding centerpiece for your wedding.

Try Juicing for More Vibrant, Healthy Skin

JuicingDid you know that your diet contributes greatly to the clarity and condition of your skin? It’s true. Pay attention next time you eat an entire candy bar by yourself, or take notice of your skin’s tone and texture if you opt for a better diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, healthier foods, and lots of water. Try juicing for a tasty and highly effective change to your skin!

Juicing can positively contribute to your skin’s condition while also boosting your overall health and wellness. Because juicing utilizes raw fruits and vegetables, your body absorbs more of the nutrients than if you cook your veggies. Whether you’ve got a cheap juicer or the latest and greatest juicer, juicing a couple times a week – or even every day – can really enhance your skin, its complexion, and your overall health.


Nutritional consultant and author Elaine Wilkes, N.C., M.A. offers a delicious tip to getting radiant, glowing skin. In her book Food Choices Made Easy! Finally A Summary of What All The Health Experts Say!, Wilkes provides helpful tips compiled from hundreds of health advisors on how to get skin that looks and feels healthy and young. In these tips, she delves in to include advice on weight loss, great foods to eat and those to avoid, and money saving tips, to name a few.

So what is the secret to smooth, healthy, youthful skin? Wilkes points to a fabulous beverage recipe as the answer – Juicing!

“Believe me, I have tried everything,” Elaine Wilkes says. “But, doing this tip, I have had strangers come up to me and ask me why my skin looked so healthy. Say goodbye to weary skin with juicing.”

Elaine Wilkes is also a Certified Practitioner of Metabolic Typing, which means she matches people’s nutrition to their metabolism, taking into account their genetics, personality, blood type, etc. She recommends creating a juicy cocktail for a vivacious skin tone and healthier complexion, and to help anyone achieve glowing skin.

“Combine fresh green vegetable juices such as cucumber, celery, kale, parsley, spinach, and a little bit of apple for a delicious taste, into a juicer,” she instructs.

Wilkes also suggests also adding lemon and ginger for a yummy zing.

“Soon, you will notice a glow to your new, plumped-up, radiant skin,” she details. “For more added benefits, drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. Beautiful skin is about what is going on inside your body. Nourish your inside with these tasty, healthy juices and your skin cannot help but look terrific. Oh, and you’ll feel great, too.”

* * *

For healthy skin that looks and feels great, make a conscious effort to improve your diet. Also take the time to practice a regular cleansing routine, and engage in a realistic exercise program. Try juicing to deliver much needed vitamins and nutrients to your body. Juicing, proper cleansing efforts, improved diet, and regular exercise can all contribute to better skin and better health. These commitments to yourself will give your body and skin the boost they’ve needed to get on and stay on the right track.

Five Yummy Coconut Beauty Products

CoconutCoconut is one of those flavors that you either love or hate. Me, I love it. It reminds me of the Bahamas, where my husband and I got engaged. It reminds me of sipping pina coladas out of a real coconut. It reminds me of the good, expensive sunblock that a lot of people wear to the beach. It reminds me of summer… of carefree days basking in the sun. Coconut brings visions of my favorite Easter candy. If I catch a whiff of coconut anything, I can almost taste a delicious shot of coconut rum in my hot chocolate! Coconut beauty products rate high on my list of favorite beauty items.

If you are another big fan of coconut and coconut flavored or fragranced items, read on.

Here are some top coconut beauty picks that could send you on a daydream vacation!

#1: Alba Naturals – Coconut Cream Lip Balm – .15 oz.
Alba Naturals Coconut Cream Lip Balm just happened to be one of my guilty pleasure purchases at the drugstore. Without a doubt, this lip-smacking product was one of the best impulse buys I’ve ever made! Alba Naturals Coconut Cream Lip Balm is a smooth ChapStick type lip gloss product that satisfies thirsty lips every time. The lip balm contains organic coconut oil that moisturizes lips, in addition to natural plant waxes to protect your lips against drying out. The gloss also boasts Vitamin E to restore your lips to their full kissable potential. This coconut beauty product is well worth the $3 or $4 price tag!

The flavor of Alba Naturals Coconut Cream Lip Balm is sweet and succulent. It is reminiscent of pina coladas and wonderful tropical libations. This yummy lip balm also contains organic jojoba seed oil and aloe, which help to further prevent your lips from drying. Coconut lip balm is a great way to taste the tropics any time of day or night, in the winter or the summer or anytime in-between.

Coconut, courtesy of Roswitha Schacht, morgueFile

#2: Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème with Vitamin E – 4.34oz.
Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème is a truly organic experience for your tootsies. This foot cream is more than just your everyday lotion. It contains generous amounts of coconut oil and other all-natural emollient ingredients and botanical oils that penetrate the skin to repair cracked, dry, and worn skin. Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème also boasts a touch of peppermint, one of the all-time favorites in foot care products. This coconut beauty product can repair your cracked, dry skin easily and effortlessly, so give it a try!

To best pamper your feet, apply this cream generously before you hop in bed. Because of the product’s strong ability to seep through the skin to soften your feet, it can leave your feet feeling a bit slick right after you apply the cream. The product’s instructions suggest putting on a pair of cotton socks. Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème is not tested on animals. Some of its key ingredients are: vegetable glycerin, olive oil, oat flour, coconut oil, oat oil, peppermint oil, rosemary leaf oil, and fragrance, to name a few.

#3 and 4: Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner…

Peanut Allergies – One Ounce of Prevention is Worth Ten Tons of Cure

PeanutfreeIn recent years, the presence of life-threatening peanut allergies has increased by leaps and bounds. “Peanut-free Classroom” and “Peanut-free Lunchroom” are becoming household phrases as extra precautions are taken to ensure the safety and well being of all students. Something as small as a fleck of peanut dust or a piece of food cooked in peanut oil can send individuals with peanut allergies into a full-fledged array of symptoms, ranging from itching and hives to all-out anaphylactic shock.

Peanut allergies arouse more symptoms than most other food allergies, often beginning with a tingling sensation that creeps into the mouth and the lips, sometimes followed by facial swelling and wheezing. Itching, hives and a feeling of warmth are also common indicators of a reaction. Other typical allergy symptoms such as cough, itchy throat, nasal symptoms, colicky pain, abdominal pain and nausea also occur within minutes of contact or ingestion. Another common symptom is Erythema, or reddening of the skin.

Of highest concern, anaphylactic shock occurs in serious cases of peanut allergies, causing difficulty breathing, asthma, swollen throat, and/or a drop in blood pressure. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction to sometimes even the smallest traces of an allergen, causing excessive swelling to the throat and obstructed breathing, which necessitates immediate medical attention. If not treated, collapse and unconsciousness have also happened as a response to the peanut allergy aggravation.

For those with peanut allergies, consuming peanut products or foods cooked with peanut products is comparable to ingesting toxins. In these individuals’ bodies, an enzyme does not exist to properly break down and digest the proteins contained in peanuts. This causes the body to react as if the peanuts were poison.


Suspicions exist as to whether consumption of peanuts and peanut products by pregnant mothers increases a child’s chances of being born with a peanut allergy. No substantial evidence can advise on this issue, but it is suggested that those at-risk (i.e.-those with an immediate family member who is allergic) refrain from peanuts and peanut products while pregnant and if breast-feeding. Also, it is important to avoid exposing an at-risk child to peanuts and products made from peanuts until at least three years of age.

Even when presence of a fatal peanut allergy is not 100% certain, it is important to be vigilant about checking certain foods for peanut ingredients before eating or serving to those with allergies. Items such as pastries and baked goods like cakes and cookies are especially prone to containing nuts. It is better to check into the contents prior to taking even the smallest bite. Cereals, crackers, ice creams, candy, health bars and granola bars also pose the possibility of containing nuts, and Oriental dishes often contain nuts or cook in peanut oils. When dining in a restaurant, it is perfectly acceptable to make your peanut allergy known to your server in order to ensure the most cautious care.

Problems also arise when companies produce food products on the same machines or in the same work area. If a company produces candy with nuts and without nuts, there is always the dangerous possibility that a crumb or a tiny bit of the nut could find its way into the packaging of another product. Furthermore, those with peanut allergies may also face problems when someone in the same room has consumed peanut products. Even just opening a jar of peanut butter or a can of peanuts may be enough to agitate the symptoms of someone who is highly allergic.

Another concern comes into play if you are dating someone with a peanut allergy or if your child is allergic. When you share meals or prepare baked goodies, avoidance of peanut products is critical. Holidays bring pounds and pounds of sweets and treats that could be brimming with hidden bits of peanuts in the crust, in the filling and in the toppings. By the way, there IS a wrong way to eat a Reese’s… if someone you love is allergic to peanuts! The bottom line: be careful if anyone you know has a peanut allergy.


So once you or someone you know have been diagnosed with a peanut allergy, what is there to do? Sometimes encounters occur without any notice or warning, and immediate actions must be taken to alleviate the problem. A device known as the Epipen provides the body with a life-saving injection of adrenaline to combat the toxins of the ingested peanuts (or other allergens). Emergency medical attention is often required for severe allergic reactions. If you know you will be around someone with a peanut allergy, simply take the extra time to safeguard him or her from any risky encounters. Avoidance of peanuts and peanut products altogether is the best precaution you can take, and vigilance in this matter is invaluable.

Tips for living with a peanut allergy:

– Always check ingredient lists before consuming foods / serving foods to those with allergies.

– If you have young children with peanut allergies, it is best to keep the products out of the house or locked up to prevent accidental ingestion.

– When ordering in a restaurant, ask to find out if the ingredients include peanuts or peanut oil, peanut flour, or other peanut products.

– Keep an Epipen and emergency contact numbers close at hand, and be sure you have quick access to a phone in case of an emergency.

– Be cautious at all times. The extra minute or two you spend to avoid taking chances could be all it takes to save a live!

How to Get a Clean, Clear Complexion – In Time for Your Wedding, Prom, or Other Special Event

Big events like your prom, graduation, or your wedding call for the most picture-perfect complexion of all. Oily skin can put a damper on your photo ops, causing your face to look shiny in your snapshots. It’s easy to get a clean and clear complexion in time for your prom, wedding, graduation, or other special event if you follow a dedicated beauty regimen and a healthier diet leading up to the big day. To get great skin and a beautiful complexion in time for your special occasion, follow these simple guidelines about skincare and dietary do’s and don’ts.

The best way to get a clean and clear complexion in a short period of time is to adhere to a strict cleansing routine coupled with a better diet and higher water intake. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage “You are what you eat.” Think about that next time you gorge yourself on those yummy French fries or potato chips!

Cleansing of the Skin and Cleansing of the Body

Water cleanses the body of its natural toxins. By drinking larger quantities of water and hydrating ourselves, the body is better able to release the dirt and oils that build up inside our pores. Also, it’s been said that exercising can help rid the face of oil and pimples too, by encouraging pore cleansing perspiration. So hydrate your body with water and exercise a couple times a week – it’s good for you any way you slice it!

One of my favorite tricks to clean up my complexion is a vigorous face scrub like St. Ives Apricot Scrub, followed by a deep cleansing clay facial masque like Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. These products and similar ones seem to zap the oil right out of the skin’s pores, leaving your face clean, soft, smooth, and clearer than it was prior to the at-home treatment. The best thing of all is that these facial scrub and facial masque products are quite gentle, and they don’t require a lot of time to be added to your weekly routine.

St. Ives offers several Apricot Scrub products for different skin types and complexions. Queen Helene also offers peel-off masques delivering different skin purifying ingredients, antioxidants, and fragrances. Using St. Ives Apricot Scrub and Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque gives me cleaner skin almost immediately, but you should allow at least a week or two for your body to adjust to the new cleansing routine.

Read on for some more specific tips to help clean up your complexion and to get healthier, clear skin in time for your special day.

The Joys and Perils of Chocolate

While much research says chocolate does not cause pimples, acne, or other facial blemishes, my own little experiment begs to differ. I gave up chocolate for at least a month prior to my wedding. I felt guilty even eating a chocolate chip bagel, so I tried to avoid chocolate altogether. While chocolate is one of my most favorite things, the thought of a huge pimple or an oily sheen to my skin made me cringe. I didn’t want to worry about slopping makeup over red pimples or swollen spots on my face on my wedding day. All I wanted to worry about was walking down the aisle without tripping and making it through my vows without fainting.

In my own experiences, chocolate can swiftly and easily clog my pores, contributing to the amount of oil and the number of blemishes I get. While chocolate serves as my favorite pick-me-up, it also contributes to the condition of my skin. Perhaps science and studies may say this is an illusion, but I believe otherwise. From the day that I gave up chocolate leading up until my wedding day, I only saw my face getting clearer and my complexion becoming cleaner and more beautiful. I didn’t suffer from a single pimple on my wedding day!

Now I am not saying that giving up chocolate will definitely seal the deal for you, but you’ve got nothing to lose by trying it!

Tips to help prevent pimples and oily blemishes on your skin:

1. Drink lots of water.

2. Exercise regularly.

3. Cleanse your face at least twice daily.

4. Exfoliate your skin at least once a week.

5. Try a product with salicylic acid. It works wonders for clearing up the skin and keeping those pores clean!

6. Use St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrub – it contains salicylic acid and it does a marvelous job at drying up the oil on your face. I use it every day.

7. Try a clay facial masque or facial mud masque at least once a week. Apply it to your face after normal cleansing and allow it to harden. As it dries, you’ll see the areas with the most oil and you will literally see where the facial masque has lifted the oils from your pores. Bye bye pimples!

8. If you do have a pimple under the surface, don’t touch! Instead, apply 10% benzyl peroxide solution to the blemish and leave it on overnight. A word of caution – these products can often cause bleaching of fabrics, so try not to get it on your good pillowcases!

Dating 101: Tips on Flirting

Love on the Beach

Contrary to popular belief, flirting isn’t all about batting your eyelashes and flipping your hair over your shoulder. To truly express your interest playfully to a potential dating partner, your best bet is to relax and be yourself. If you are shy, flirting may not come naturally, but with a little practice, you can be a smooth and natural flirt. Here are some tips on dating and flirting techniques that can help you get close to a new love interest.

The Basics of Flirting
Flirting can be fun but it can also give people the wrong idea. Even if you have the very best intentions, flirting can get you into trouble with the wrong people. It is very important to use discretion when flirting so you don’t lead someone on, making them believe you’re interested when you’re really not.

Depending on your comfort levels, there are many flirting techniques that you can try. Body language, strong eye contact, and coy or playful remarks are just a few. Read on for some more specific examples of how you can flirt with someone you like.


Body Language and its Universal Dictionary
One of the most popular and commonly used flirting techniques is simple and innocent body contact. Gently touch your love interest on the hand or arm as you laugh or animatedly tell them something. This can be especially moving if you whisper and make eye contact while lightly touching their arm.

If you happen to be on a date, flirting may come a bit easier. It’s a great move for guys to casually slip their arm around a girl during a movie, or for girls to jump during the scary part of a flick and grab the guy’s hand or arm. Holding hands is a huge, telltale sign that romantic interest is there. A subtle yet riveting flirting technique in response to handholding is a gentle caress by your thumb on the other person’s hand.

Lock Eyes and Watch Sparks Fly
Truth be told, there’s nothing like really good eye contact when it comes to flirting. When passion runs deep, a single gaze from the one you like can make you feel like the only person in the room, even if there are dozens of other people around. Catch your love interest’s eye and try holding his or her gaze for as long as you can muster. Lengthened eye contact is like foreplay and can lead to even greater moments of flirting as you spend more time together.

Whether you know it or not, your eyes have a language of their own. The manner in which you look at someone or something can speak volumes for what you’re thinking. From rolling your eyes to zoning in on a particular physical feature, using eye contact as a flirting technique tends to be highly successful for many people. In fact, it is one of the very first things that drew me to my husband! We’ve had incredible eye contact from the start and our flirting with each other has only grown ever since.

Know Your Boundaries, and Keep Them
Sometimes it is hard to tell if someone likes you back, especially if your intended partner is timid or shy. As you begin flirting with someone, try to watch for physical cues and listen for verbal cues to see if your interest is reciprocated. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t distinguish whether you’ve met your match or not. Even if things don’t work out, you still get to practice flirting and getting to know new people.

As you practice flirting with people, always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t flirt with strangers in strange places. If you meet someone new at a bar or other public place, make sure you put your own safety before your desire to get to know someone new. For your safety, consider asking for their phone number or giving them yours rather than going somewhere alone with someone you’ve just met.

As you enhance your flirting ability and skills, you may find yourself more willing to try new flirting techniques or to attempt more intense actions. If you aren’t getting a positive reaction to your flirting after a couple attempts, it may be a good time to throw on the brakes and tone down the intensity. For example, if you’ve been sending verbal cues or strong eye contact to a girl or guy without response, don’t take things to the next step with a touch on the arm or leg. Sometimes coming on too strong can scare away a potential love interest before you even get to know each other!

Once you do have a steady significant other, make a conscious effort to focus all your flirting techniques on your partner!

Here Are Eight Basic Flirting Tips to Try…

Safety Tips for Your Child’s MySpace, Facebook, or Friendster Account

If you’ve ever watched “To Catch a Predator,” MySpace and Facebook may be on the list of off-limits sites for your kids. These social networking Web sites attract people of all age groups and all backgrounds, and sadly, safety and security on these venues are far from sufficient. With all the crime in the news today, it is imperative that parents take extra precautions and follow safety tips when letting their pre-teens and teens use these social sites. While chatting and blogging and meeting new people online can be a lot of fun, it can also be unsafe.

Members who use sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Friendster can create profiles about themselves, upload photos, and search for people to add as “friends” to their social networks. They can leave comments for other members and they can send them e-mail messages. They can write blogs about themselves, their friends, and what’s going on in their lives. These sites are very much like online journals and diaries that broadcast one’s life to the world.

Children, teenagers, and adults turn to social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Friendster to meet new friends, locate old and forgotten friends, keep in touch with current friends, and often to find new dating partners. Often, a member’s profile page divulges personal information about his or her life, including age, interests, religion, even body type, and alarmingly, school and hometown. For safety and security reasons, this array of information combined with the member’s photograph can be a dangerous combination.

A common fear among parents and authorities alike is that pedophiles and sex offenders have easy and instant access to their targets. Chris Hansen of the popular show “To Catch a Predator” suspects that MySpace and other online friendship networking sites are a breeding ground for sexual predation. Predators don’t always represent themselves truthfully online according to age and other identifying factors, so it isn’t always easy for kids and other site members to pick them out.

As a parent, you want to ensure that your child is always safe and protected. Here are some safety tips to help you keep a strong and healthy relationship with your child while also leveraging good security precautions.

Safety Tips for Social Networking Sites:
Follow these steps to safeguard your child’s activities on MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and other social sites.

1. Explain the potential dangers of the Internet to your children. Talk openly and honestly with them about bad people who use the Internet to do bad things. Discuss the importance of disclosing their proper age rather than lying to appear older. Also explain how anything your children say online can come back to embarrass them if they are not careful with what they say. The Internet is an open forum for the world to see. It’s just like shouting from the rooftops!

2. Keep open lines of communication with your kids. If you work at it from the time they are young, you should be able to develop a good relationship where your kids feel comfortable coming to you for advice. Encourage them to tell you about their school day each night at dinner. Ask them if they had a good time when they visited a friend’s house. Show an interest in your child’s life, and you should find that you have fewer surprises as your child matures.

3. Don’t allow your child to use the Internet behind closed doors. Keep the computer in a family area so that you have an idea of the types of sites that your children are visiting. Enable passwords to ensure that you know when your child is on the Internet.

4. You keep the password to your child’s account. If you allow your child to post a profile on any social networking sites like MySpace or Friendster or Facebook, decide on a password that your child could not easily crack. You then become an essential part of your children’s experience on MySpace, and they cannot access their profile without your permission.

5. Encourage your kids to only add people that they know to their friends’ list. The chance of a pedophile, sex offender, or other criminal targeting your children is drastically reduced if your kids only accept people they know into their network.

The social networking sites do impose their own safety guidelines and security procedures. MySpace requires that its members be at least 14 years of age, and requires a birth date be entered when they sign up. Staff members perform surveillance from time to time to detect underage members. But no amount of site maintenance can make up for good parenting!

When it comes to keeping your children safe from online dangers, close supervision and good, open lines of communication are paramount. Follow the safety tips in this article and develop some rules in your household for Internet use. MySpace, Facebook, and Friendster can provide hours of fun and excitement for all who join the sites. With proper attention to safety, you can rest easy while your children can have a good time networking with their friends. Even if they don’t understand right now, your kids deserve the best safety and protection a parent can provide!

Diet and Care Tips for Healthy Nails

Do you know that your fingernails and toenails can indicate potential problems in other parts of your body? Healthy nails should typically sport a pink hue, but sometimes they may change in tone and texture, signifying a deficiency in certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Here are some tips and nutritional suggestions to keeping your nails healthy and beautiful!

If you keep your nails healthy and strong, you should notice changes in the composition and color of your nails. Keeping your nails healthy holds a twofold benefit – gorgeous fingertips and tootsies and a helpful clue to learn if anything might be wrong elsewhere in your body. And while we don’t necessarily think of nails as gauges of our health in most cases, we sure do love getting dolled up and showing them off! Salmon, brown rice, and asparagus are great for nails!

To begin your quest for healthy nails, first make a commitment to eating healthier foods. You can still enjoy the foods you love, but you should make a conscious effort to consume healthy fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and eggs, among other nail-friendly foods.

Enjoy these great foods for healthy nails:

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Brown rice
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Liver
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Salmon
  • Seeds
  • Soy
  • Tuna
  • Whole grains

If you want healthy, strong, and beautiful nails that last, don’t stop with diet. Make some minor changes in your life and you can enjoy lovely nails without the price tag that comes with a trip to the nail salon. Avoid biting your nails, buff away rough edges when necessary, and make a few other small changes to achieve the perfect nails you’ve always wanted.

For great nails, follow these simple tips:

Consume foods containing calcium and zinc. Calcium effectively promotes nail growth. (You know those little white spots that show up on your nails in funny places sometimes? Those spots mean you aren’t getting enough zinc in your diet.)

Consume less sugar and less alcohol.

Do not use your nails as tools. No picking, plucking, poking, prying…

Don’t bite your nails. Try applying nail polish or painting a bitter-tasting liquid to the nails. Such products have been specially designed to help people quit their nail-biting habits.

Don’t remove hangnails by pulling at them. Gently clip them with manicure scissors or nail clippers to prevent damage to your skin and tissue.

Eat fewer saturated fats.

Ensure that you consume enough protein.

Increase your intake of Vitamins A, B, C, D and E.

Keep your nails short to prevent breakage.

Leave your cuticles alone.

Moisturize your nails often. When you apply lotion to your hands, legs or other areas, be sure to rub a little bit into your nails.

Reduce the amount of dairy in your diet.

Trim nails regularly, as needed. Use an emery board or nail file to smooth rough edges after trimming and when a nail breaks.

If you want to have beautiful and strong, healthy nails, it may not cost you a trip to the salon. Commit to a healthier diet, better habits, and pick up some pretty nail polish for an at-home manicure. With a little time, discipline and dedication, you can enjoy healthy, strong, and shiny nails with little effort.

How to Remove Gum from Hair Painlessly

If sticky, icky chewing gum ever gets stuck in your hair, don’t spring for the scissors on the very first instant. Having gum helplessly stuck in your hair may not be so helpless after all. In many cases, products with an oil base can remarkably loosen the gum from your hair, allowing it to be gently pulled away with a comb, paper towel, or clean rag.

Try some of the following remedies if you are unable to loosen the gum from your hair on your own.

Some products to use when attempting to remove gum from hair:

Ice – Perhaps the easiest, cleanest and least expensive method of all is putting a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and rubbing them onto the gum until it freezes. Once the gum has hardened completely, it should break away easily, releasing itself from the hair.

Baby oil, canola oil or olive oil – Armed with a fine-tooth comb and one of these oils, one should be able to release the gum with a little time and concentration. The oil helps to break down the gum, easily allowing it to be taken from the hair. First massage oil onto the area stuck to the gum, allowing it to set for about 20 minutes. Then gently apply a comb to the area. If the gum does not come away easily, repeat this process.

Peanut butter – (NOTE: Do not use this method on anyone with a peanut allergy!) Peanut butter may be rubbed through hair thoroughly, and left to saturate that section of hair for about 15 minutes. Follow this procedure by a gentle brushing or combing. Next, rinse or shampoo hair as usual, with warm water. This should help the gum to come free in chunks.

Mayonnaise or butter – These products have also been known to loosen gum from hair in a pinch. Massage a dab of one or the other onto the trouble spot and gently comb the gum out of the hair.

Shortening – Shortening is another product that generally releases gum from hair. Take a small dab and massage it onto the affected area. Gum should then slip out of the hair effortlessly once the shortening has loosened it.

Cooking oil or cooking spray – Also attempt cooking oil or cooking spray if shortening is unavailable.

Hairspray – By spritzing on some hairspray, gum should easily peel away from hair.

Baking soda and water mixture – A mixture of baking soda and water massaged onto problem area should resolve the situation by loosening the gum until it can be brushed out.

Regular hair conditioner – Massage conditioner into hair and comb, rinsing the comb while bits of the gum start to come out of the hair. This process is a bit more tedious than the others, so use this method as a backup plan.

Egg whites – Using egg whites and a fine-tooth comb should help loosen gum from hair and cause it to dissolve a bit. First massage the egg whites into the afflicted area, then comb gently and rinse. Repeat until no longer necessary.

Finally, if you are uncomfortable trying these other options, consult your hair care provider for a professional opinion.

The peanut butter method and the ice cube method have both been rated as highly effective techniques for removing gum from one’s hair. Special precautions should be taken, however, to ensure that the child or subject with gum stuck in his or her hair does not have a peanut allergy.

Warnings about using these methods to remove gum from hair:

The stress of these products, chemicals and methods on hair may cause some minimal breakage as the gum is being removed from hair.

Do not mix chemicals when attempting to remove gum from hair.

Oil may remain in hair even after gum has been removed, for several days and/or several shampoos. Dish washing detergent may aid in removing the oil from one’s hair.

Tips for preventing gum from sticking in hair again:

Do not fall asleep with gum in your mouth.

Do not play with gum while chewing it.

A Plastic Smile – Cosmetic Surgery Pros, Cons and Risk Factors

Before you slap on a plastic smile, do some deep thinking on the whole picture when it comes to plastic surgery and its risks.

It’s in the news, on television, movies and just about everywhere you look. Did Britney Spears get a lip enhancement? Did Michael Jackson get another nose job? Which celebs have had plastic surgery and which haven’t? But the truth is – today’s celebrities and tabloid covergirls aren’t the only ones getting cosmetic surgery.

A pretty face, a slender frame, and sizable, perky breasts are society’s general prerequisites for a “beautiful woman,” and people are increasingly more willing to succumb to these diluted perceptions each year. But the purses and bank accounts of women are not the only ones being spilled out for a fresh new look….

More and more men are considering and even going through with cosmetic surgery to fit the trim and youthful appearance desired by so many. Male pectoral implants, calf implants, Rhinoplasty, facelifts, eyelifts and tummy tucks are just a few of the popular procedures in which males are recently partaking. If it’s good enough for celebrities such as Burt Reynolds, Elton John, and Michael Jackson, who have undergone cosmetic surgery, there is all the more reason for other males to consider it.

The ever-popular “nose job,” or rhinoplasty, is just one of dozens of treatments available to the big spenders. Music’s Michael Jackson is a well-known celeb who’s gone under the knife for this procedure. Typical nose job procedures cost anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars and ever climbing.) As the nose is rumored to be the most prominent feature on a person’s face, many are quick to have theirs sculpted to perfection, or at least to improvement.

In addition to aesthetic nose surgery, procedures such as aesthetic ear surgery, cosmetic eyelid surgery, facelifts, forehead lifts, and chemical face peels attempt to present cosmetic surgery patients with a more appealing visage.

Eyelid rejuvenation, or Blepharoplasty, is a relatively common cosmetic procedure practiced in the hopes of reducing the signs of aging around the eyes. Facelifts and forehead lifts and chemical face peels also attempt to decrease the appearance of aging, thus restoring a brighter skin tone and an overall younger look.

Non-facial cosmetic surgery procedures are extremely common as well. Liposuction and tummy tucks are common treatments to aid in contouring the body and eliminating localized deposits of fat in areas such as the waistline, thighs and buttocks.

Breast size and shape become a concern to women for several reasons, including physical appearance and personal comfort. Breast implants, breast reduction and breast lifts may deliver desire results to happy patients, but several risks could dampen the bliss. Inability to nurse a baby, uneven nipple placement and sensory loss are possible flaws known to occur after a Mammoplasty.

The obvious and ultimate goal, or benefit, is to construct the desired appearance in as little time as possible with little or no pain and a quick recovery. Often, patients know exactly what they want to see when the procedure is done, so a match to the envisioned or sketched result is the greatest advantage, though there is no guarantee.

The cons and risk factors are much more abundant, though sometimes rare or uncommon. The need to take time off from one’s professional career and typical daily activities can be seen as an immediate disadvantage. Financial expenses, imminent bruising and discomfort may also deter an individual from receiving a cosmetic surgical procedure. Speaking with a person who has had cosmetic surgery performed on them may be the best means of deciding for oneself if opting for surgery is the right choice.

As with any type of surgical procedure, certain inherent risks are involved. Infection, dry eye problems/ decreased tear production, bleeding, blindness and damage to nerves, blood vessels and muscles within the eye are just a few complications that can occur when a Blepharoplasty is performed. Less serious risks can include allergic reactions, asymmetry (a notable difference in appearance of the eyes), chronic pain, delayed or prolonged healing of the affected area, permanent or temporary eyelash hair loss, scarring, and dissatisfaction with the end result, among others. This is not to mention additional risks involved with local and general anesthesia administered to patients receiving surgical treatment.

With so many risks, why do so many people continue to go through with cosmetic surgery? Not surprisingly, for the same reasons many people dye their hair! Satisfaction of one’s appearance is intrinsically linked to one’s happiness and overall mood and performance. Do blondes really have more fun? If someone asks your mom one more time how old she is, will she tell? Will enhanced or reduced breasts really make someone a “different person”? It is all a state of mind.

Though risks such as blindness, blood clots, and serious lung problems are rare, it is critical that you are aware of these possible outcomes. The 2007 death of Kanye West’s mother, Dr. Donda West, is a prime example of how cosmetic surgery can go terribly wrong. If you cannot live with the potential consequences, it is best to think twice and weigh out your options before plunging into a procedure that could change your life forever.

DISCLAIMER: This article’s purpose is to briefly inform individuals about the pros, cons and risk factors involved with cosmetic surgery. It is not meant to replace the opinions and judgments of medical professionals, but to bring a clear and unbiased awareness to the overall concept of cosmetic surgery.