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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Bountiful Feast

On a cold winter night, crowds of hipsters swarmed out to the trendy Feast – the eatery and bar that is a Wicker Park staple.  The reason? A new menu and a new management powerhouse team led by Jason Myers has taken over and revamped the eatery to keep it trendy and hip. Myers isn’t new to Chicago. He has been a veteran chef previously over at Deleece Grill and Grass Fed. Being a native from Australia and having spent time at a couple of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Myers came to Chicago and has been serving up some interesting and intoxicating flavors. Teamed with Maura Davis as the new general manager and new mother-goddess of everything alcoholic, things got a major taste overhaul. Davis formerly of Francesca and LM, knows her wines and has an intense knowledge of good reds when it comes to wine.

There is still a lovely patio at Feast, although is a bit chilly to sit out there currently. Instead, cosy up in the bar and checkout the new selection. Much, if not about 90% of the menu is new. It is eclectic and reflects the styles and tastes of the neighborhood. There is something to accommodate most tastes… and I mean that literally. There is a lot of variety on the menu. There are a large selection of appetizers and a nice array of salads. The side items are not ones you would typically find and there are plenty. Sandwiches are plentiful as well as some nice burger options. There are nine entreés to pick under the entrée side of the menu. It is easy to find something that will work for a lighter meal, to mix and match tasting menu or something that is more substantial when one is really hungry. They concentrated on variety but also on flavor. Each item on the menu has had it’s flavored tweaked and dissected so that it is not “ordinary”. It is also not expensive — no budget is going to be broken while having a good meal.

 If you are looking for light fare, they have lots of salad options. Two of the best are the House-smoked Trout Salad and the Grilled Baby Octopus. The Trout salad is large and will not leave you hungry. It has crispy potatoes and comes with lemon vinaigrette. I am not one that can easily make a meal on a salad alone. This one I can and I will feel satisfied as it hits on many taste buds. The same can be said for the Baby Octopus. It comes on a bed of frisee and a chili oregano vinaigrette. This is an appetizer salad so you may want to pair it with one of the flatbreads that change daily. They have a couple vegetarian options, semolina cakes with mushroom ragu and parmesan cheese or the black bean burger. I would not say Feast is heavy on the vegetarian options however those that are there are very good. One of the items on the menu is Buttermilk Biscuits with Carmelized Onions.  These are fun and perfect with a class of wine on a cold winter night. I opted for something a little stronger to start — a Pimms Cup.

Let's Chat about Beverages

As I digress from food for a moment, let me tell you how wonderfully Maura has handled the beverage menu.  First thing – beer flight.  She has four 6 oz. tastings for $12. This includes a few IPA and a variety of ales that are local brewed. By the glass, she has an excellent variety of whites and reds by the glass — not just one or two of each. She realizes the neighborhood has a variety of tastes so the wine menu reflects that. There are sweet and dry in both categories of red and white. There are many things to try by the bottle also. In the cocktail category, she has plethora to pick from. She has not concentrated on just vodka as many places do. She is everything covered. One of my favorites was the Pimms Cup. A classic in the UK, it is tough — OK, almost impossible really — to find a good one this side of the pond. This is excellent and worth a trip to the bar. Much cheaper on a regular basis than airfare to London, this cocktail has mix of ginger beer, muddled orange and mint. It is lovely in the summer but in winter, it hits the spot equally well. She has a manhattan made with Koval Rye. If you like manhattans, you will enjoy them greatly with rye as a refreshing change.  Looking to snuggle up for a light dinner and glass of red? One of her best selections is a Guy Chaumont Pinot Noir from France. No, it is not the most expensive thing under the red wine, it is actually one of the cheapest. It is also one of the most flavorful things you can try. Beautifully dry, it has a peppery finish that stands out and tantalizes the tongue and is perfect paired with cheese.

But it’s winter and you want something warm and filling? Go for it — do the Red Chili Braised Short Ribs. This is very pot roast like in texture and comes with goat cheese white polenta. On first glance, the polenta looks like mashed potatoes, but the taste is better. It holds up to the ribs. They have just the right amount of spice and heat. They are not too spicy but have a flavor that sticks and pairs well with the goat cheese.

There is a feeling with the menu that make one is think they are dining in a more upscale restaurant when looking at the left side selection column. When you look at the right side of the column, one is pleasantly surprised. A final note: the vibe of the place is fun. The patio will be (and has been) a definite hit in the summer. The new menu and beverage options make it complete. It’s a good place to hold up while the winter is still brewing. Hint, hint: This is a meal a guy will love —Valentines Day is around the corner.

“Wicked” Composer curates music against bullying for Chicago Premiere

In today’s Halfstack Highlights, we talk with Paul Caldwell, creative director and conductor of Windy City Performing Arts. In their new concert series, Legacies of Hope, the group honors the lives of the countless LGBTQ youth who are at risk in our communities, and will feature the Midwest premiere of Tyler’s Suite. Tyler’s Suite honors the memory of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student and classical violinist who took his own life after being cyberbullied for being gay by his college roommate. Paul discusses the chorus, the work and the foundation with Thom Olson, writer for Halfstack.

Paul Caldwell for WCPA
Tyler’s Suite is an original, multi-movement work curated by Stephen Schwartz (of Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) and was created by top American composers of this century. Set to lyrics by Pamela Stewart with sections contributed by John Bucchino, Ann Hampton Callaway, Craig Carnelia, Nolan Gasser, Jake Heggie, Lance Horne, and Stephen Schwartz, Tyler's Suite highlights the impact and consequences of bullying. This new work will be presented at at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Chicago. The Suite was co-commissioned by Tyler Clementi Foundation and six of the country’s other leading gay choruses, (San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, New York City Gay Men's Chorus, San Diego Men's Chorus, Turtle Creek Chorale/Dallas, and Seattle Men's Chorus.)  It is the hope of the Tyler Clementi Foundation that the hauntingly beautiful lyrics and music will “shine a light of hope and endless possibility” for other at-risk youth and their families. Foundation members, including Tyler’s mother, Jane Clementi, will be in attendance at both Chicago performances.
Stephen Schwartz, composer for Wicked

I hope you enjoyed this latest episode of Halfstack Highlights. If you listeners are interested in learning more about Windy City Performing Arts, you can visit them online at: Windycitysings.org. Also, if you have the means, please donate what you can to Windy City Performing Arts or the Tyler Clementi Foundation (tylerclementi.org). And remember, please feel free to rate our podcasts and leave a comment on itunes! Your comments and feedback will help us to grow as we develop this new outlet and will allow the podcast, the people and the creatives showcased to be exposed to an even bigger audience.

Thanks for your support!
Jennifer Lezan

Thom Olson

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

10 Tips for Spring: Christie Maruka

Although spring is hiding under all the snow, it's on the way. Don't just stick with the same outfits you wore last year and the year before thatmixing and matching bright colors is just half the fun. Christie Maruka narrows down the endless inspiration with ten tips for spring. This trusted and noted stylist has developed herself as an expert image consultant throughout her three decades contributing to the fashion industry. Maruka doesn't stop just there; she is a contributing fashion writer and editorial stylist as well as a retail store owner.

As the founder of Fashion Fix, Christie Maruka takes her show on the road—literally. Fashion Fix is a mobile styling service determined to keep people along the East Coast dressed to impress. This expert shares her tips for the spring of 2015:

Denim becomes pure luxury this spring. Aside from its rising versatility, denim has found new meanings and styles to conquer. Embellished, washed out, molded into feminine silhouettes or just relaxed and comfortable, there is no doubt that denim is making its way to high fashion this season.

Draped dresses and bohemian silhouettes take over the runway during fashion week. BCBG by Max Azria contributed stunning pieces that demonstrate this hot spring style. His classic and enduring fabrications were softened to appeal to modern day chic-seekers.

Flowy and feminine mini-dresses are a must for this spring. Marissa Webb, the creative director for Banana Republic, added a romantic aura to this style. Cargo vests, cool shirt dresses, or the classic trench coat are great additions to the mini-dress for a completed look.
Photo Credit: Naulda Magazine
Flatter your figure! Keep an eye out for plunging necklines, playful pantsuits and sheer over-skirts to take over the streets this season. Everyone should try these clean and modern styles as demonstrated in Carmen Marc Valvo's 2015 spring collection. 

Ruffles and delicate frills are in full swing this season. Nicole Miller utilizes this trend in her skinny skirts and dresses to make a daytime and evening look.

Feel gorgeous in your own skin. Light, lacy, layered slip dresses as well as wide-legged trousers are a favorite this spring! Nicky Zimmerman shows off these garments as well as sexy off the shoulder men's shirting, cinched trenched vests, and beautiful swimwear that is too nice to swim in.

These season's direction is to pair natural fabrics and muted colors. Mara Hoffman featured rainbow slip dresses, sunbursts and striped motif on swimwear, and maxi dresses during fashion week. This softer direction created incredibly sophisticated and polished ensembles.

Sporty Chic is dominant for 2015 spring fashions. Slouchy knitted polo-buttoned up shirts that are not just for Country clubs are popular; J.Crew and Hugo Boss pinned it perfectly.
Popping up everywhere this season, khaki is the shade expected to add some much needed freshness to the upcoming spring season. From Military to modern safari, expect Khaki to find its way into your wardrobe come spring.

Just in time for spring, lace was featured in countless garments throughout fashion week. As the foundation or embellishment, it creates a heavenly feel to your feminine side as shown in Michael Costello's 2015 spring designs. 

Christie Maruka:
"There are so many great styles to choose from, an avalanche of options, something for everyone this season, and these trends can be very easy to wear. Make each look your own, be unique, play up your favorite body parts, know your best colors and wear it well. It’s all about you, how you work it and how you own it."

Spring Tips from a Fashionpreneur

From her strong interests in both fashion and entrepreneurship, Ariana Pierce has announced herself a "Fashionpreneur." Since Pierce was 14 years old, she has been climbing her way to the top of the fashion industry. This fashionpreneur blogger and superstar CEO is a favored stylist who also runs her own online store, Style Shoppe. Ariana Pierce is dedicated to providing rich girl beauty on a real girl budget.

Spring cannot come any sooner; it is right around the corner which means bright colors for all! There are certain staples every woman must have in her closet. One of the most exciting parts about spring is playing with different colors and prints to make your ensembles fit the season. Ariana Pierce shares her spring fashion tips for all the fashion lovers out there:

Pierce's favorite tip for spring is to find your shade of yellow. Yes, everyone can wear it. As seen on the runway of Michael Kors and Rosie Assoulin, this is a beautiful and bold color that can really make your outfit pop.

"It’s such a beautiful color that can be worn on every skin tone."

Thank the fashion gods for comfort this season! Your feet are sure to be happy with this new go-to looks for spring—flats and sliders.

For this spring, toss out your leather for a suede top or skirts. Altuzarra perfected this spring look on the runway by mixing a suede top with a striped skirt.

Ariana Pierce's online store, Style Shoppe, offers a variety of tees and accessories. Find great deals on jewelry, parfum, phone candy, clothing and more! Pierce runs her nail polish line through Style Shoppe as well; Superstar Nail Lacquer offers bold colors to add a little spark to your look. Check out her latest collection here.

Pierce's jewelry collection can top off any outfit! You may have those key pieces you bring out every spring, but it’s time to switch them up to make a bold fashion statement. The pink & lime green trimmed choker adds a special class transitioning from day to night.
Pierce instantly fell in love with the 3D pink floral necklace from her spring/summer collection. This is a unique necklace is a must-have this season. The bright and bold look brings depth to slim your neckline.

Sleater-Kinney at the Riviera

The famous Riot Grrrl band, Sleater-Kinney, made a comeback with a new album after a decade. Their new album, which is titled No Cities to Love, bursts with power and energy and it does not disappoint! The decade of hiatus was definitely worth the wait. Recently, two music videos were released as promotion for the album. The music video for the song "No Cities to Love" shows some of the band's friends rocking out the song. Their next video for "A New Wave" shows the band members in cartoon form singing along with the characters from the show Bob's Burgers.

The band members, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss, brought their all to stage when they performed at a sold out show at The Riviera Theatre on February 17. Check out the concert pics below!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A new Twist on picking a Car at the Autoshow

The Chicago Auto Show is held annually in February at Chicago's McCormick Place convention complex. It is the largest auto show in North America. All of us need our own test of cars. There’s so much to cover with over 1 million square feet of the McCormick Place complex loaded with all things automotive. One has to plot carefully to get the most at Chicago Auto Show or one runs out of time quickly as there is so much to see. But everyone has different requirements for a car and performance needs.

How does one pick out a car? Will we love it when we take it off the showroom floor or be feeling buyers remorse? It all gets so confusing especially if one isn't truly "into" cars. We have you covered. Depending on your personality your star signs, picking a car has never been easier. Think we're kidding? We went to the Chicago Autoshow with just that thought: which car works best for your astrological sign. So take a look and give a shout out if you agree.


There's only one vehicle for the Ram: a sports car — and the faster, the better. No, not a RAM truck, sorry. A Corvette may be their dream car, but as long as it moves — really moves — any option will do just fine. The personality of Aries based on a high energy, quick reactions, aggressive, ambition and generosity.  Aries people also like to travel and the faster the better. Beside the Corvette, Ford Mustang is cool too and offers a back seat should they need to have their entourage. Suggested colors: Red, Orange and Yellow.


Much like the Ram Truck, just because they happen to have a car named after them doesn't necessarily mean they'll want to drive it. The Ford Taurus is not the car for those that fall under the sign of Taurus. Taurus people are venerable money magnets, so they may not be driving yourself at all. In that case, they'll  will need a car that your driver likes it. So what cars can be made into an effective limo? The Mercedes-Maybach Pullman of course. if they will like to drive sometimes, a Lincoln MKS will be great for their personality and offers a smooth ride. They will require to valet as it will not be easy to park. Suggested colors: Blue, Navy or Grey.


Gemini people are famous for its fondness for movement and total lack of patience with traffic. The vehicle must be fast, able to negotiate quick turns but tough enough to handle shortcuts. They like to communicate with people and also you have a practical personality. Big cars are important to they since they always give their friends a ride. Toyota and Buick are great to your personality. Surprised by the Buick? It's totally dependable and totally practical. Suggested colors: Black, Dark blue or Olive.


When we mention Cancer, we know that we are talking about a big family guy. So even if they're not attached, while eyeing prospects and helping out a best friend. They'll think first of what it is able to do for you — so that they'll be able to do more for those they love. Family, friends and a lot of home stuff? It must be able to haul lots of stuff from HomeDepot. The best choice will be the four-wheeled car or a van. Then they see the Jeep and they will fall in love. It hits the requirements and if fun for everyone. Suggested colors: Sky blue,  Silver grey and White.


It's no secret that Leo the lion has always been associated with royalty, which in turn has always been associated with gold and diamonds.  While they're likely to be seen driving a respectable ride like a BMW or Audi, they are a travel person too. Beside the BMW and the Audi, the top of the line Range Rover will be great option with every possible accessories under the sun. It also says family car for carrying the cubs around. Suggested colors: Gold, Orange and Maroon. Yes - we are talking custom paint job.


They open the door with urgency and invite us to have a seat. Once they're behind the wheel, that's usually that assessment before starting. Take, for example, work. They sit at their desk and take assessment of the pencil box or where the mouse is. When shopping for a vehicle, they start investigating the vehicle online, considering its reliability, gas mileage, average, resale value, etc. Usually, the winner is something similar to a Toyota Camry or Subaru. The key words are resilience, reliability and longevity. And that is it in a nutshell. Suggested colors: Light Brown or Grey. It is unassuming and hide dirt.


Attention all Librans: Venus — the Goddess of Beauty, is your patron planet. "Attractive" absolutely must be among top five qualities when looking for in a vehicle. They are also big on partnerships, so two-seaters have an edge. They are likely be most satisfied with bushy comfort: a Cadillacs coupe or hatchback fully equipped with reclining seats and, of course, built-in holders for everything from cell phones to Starbucks. Suggested colors: Sky blue, Navy Blue and Blue. Blue, Blue and Blue.


The dream vehicle is something along the lines of either the Batmobile or a James Bond prowler. Scorpio's personality is based on doubt, mystery and seduction. Your option are an Austin Martin, a vintage Bentley or perhaps the new Alpha Romero Spider, Maserati or a McLaren. The Spider is back and the Quattroporte GTS has been restyled. Both are easier to get parts as they are both being distributed by Fiat Chrysler so maintenance is easier when you have that fender bender running from Goldfinger. The color is black  for the interior. Suggested colors : Black, Navy or Blood red.


The question here is about not about what you want, but what you need. A large (very large) back end — perhaps a third of the vehicle, for your equally large dog(s), horse trailer or bike rack. Basically, a converted school bus or motor home would be best. The Partridge Family bus is already sold. Failing that, your best option is a four-wheel drive or a Ford truck. Ford trucks have ample styling and they don't make you feel like you are riding in a truck. It has the hauling space and towing power. Suggested color: Red or Orange. No Yellow, you will be hounded with flocks of kids chasing after you.


It's a Saturn.  Besides being their ruling planet, it is fairly priced for their frugal little hearts. This vehicle is perfect for the capricorn. The fondness for quality extends to antique cars (like the '57 Chevy) or anything that retains its value longer than most. But this new vehicle can't be showy, flashy or extravagant. Quality comes first with price right behind as the priorities for the purchase. Suggested colors: Sky blue, Chocolate or Black.


They make it their business to ensure that social faux pas and mistakes don't happen on their watch. From the way they act, the clothes they wear, to the vehicle they drive. That means they've discovered the wonder of a hybrid. Regardless of what vehicle is selected, it's a given they'll plaster it with bumper stickers so their need for big advertising space on the back end is essential. Full tech accessories are so important too. Suggested colors: Green, Sand and Aubergine.


They like the look of a luxury car, but not for the sake of being spoiled. They love to dream, so the more beautiful, fanciful and special the vehicle, the better. If it makes them feel like a star, they'll spend whatever it takes to make it their own. It's about how they feel in the moment of driving and how it make them look forward to the future. Porsche. The Porsche models released seem to all come in hatchbacks so they can be packed with lots of luggage and carry loads of dreams. Suggested colors: Grey, Pale Blue/Silver and White.

Written by Tareq Al Saud for HalfStack

Gregory Porter at The Mac: Intro to Jazz with One of the Greats

Grammy Award-winner Gregory Porter demonstrated why NPR called him “the next great male jazz singer” last night in the Belushi Performance Hall at The McAninch Arts Center.
Gregory Porter The rescheduled show was packed and buzzing with excitement. This show was originally a Valentine’s Day treat for some, but now they were just excited to see the rising star live before he took off for the stratosphere. “I have everything he’s done,” several people told me. For many of the couples in attendance, one of Porter’s songs is their song. Executive Director Diana Martinez apologized for the rescheduling and explained the radio station WDCB 90.9 FM helped bring Porter in. She told them she wanted to bring jazz to the center and was looking for recommendations. “This is the guy,” they told her. “He’s top of our list.”
Photo credit: Nina Simone Bentley Source: Wikipedia The audience cheered with in notes of the first song starting. While he has sung all his life, Porter went to school on a football scholarship until an injury rerouted his career. Football’s loss is the music world’s gain. He’s a tall man. I wouldn’t want to be opposite him on the football field. Onstage his presence is commanding yet approachable. His voice is elegant, every note delivered with purpose and precision. I felt he was a Fred Astaire versus a Gene Kelly of a singer, beautiful and graceful, but not displaying vocal gymnastics. As soon as I wrote that note, he did a vocal tumbling run and stuck the landing. He did a couple of vocal curly cues on the ends of songs, but they were decorative. His performance did not rely on them. Porter didn’t do much talking between songs so the evening flew by. When he did it was playful. “If they cheer louder for you than for me,” he teased the saxophonist. “You’re fired. That’s how it is.” His enthusiasm was infectious. I also like performers I can believe. He performed a song for his “soldiers of love” called “No Love Dying.” When he said those words, I believed him. Love was not dying here for him or for me because he said so.
Source: Wikipedia On “Liquid Spirit” he asked us to clap with him. We did (the man said, “Clap”). It was this strong, crisp singular clap from the ground floor to the back of the balcony. He opened his song called “Mother’s Song” saying his mother would make him get up in church ever since he was five years old and sing. I’d like to see him in church, to see that voice really open up and boom with those acoustics. He respected the other musicians onstage. When it was their time to shine and showcase their skills, he simply stepped back and kept time with his foot, enjoying watching the players perform with us. He didn’t draw attention to himself. Gregory Porter live is a great introduction to decadent, luxurious jazz. You could feel the love in the theatre because it was a community united by their love for the singer and a concern for music today, embodied in his song "Musical Genocide" as he sang, “I do not agree. This is not for me.” It was Sunday and the show was church for some as he said later in that song, “the music, the people, they are one and the same.”

March Letter from the Editor

It's March readers! You know what that means right? Our spring issue releases in just over two weeks. We are in the final process of finalizing layouts and putting together the actual issue as I write this and I wanted to get this note out asap as things will be a little hectic for me the next two weeks. Not only am I releasing this next issue, I am also the instructor working with the Spring fashion show production class at the The Illinois Institute of Art - Schaumburg and our show is on the 12th! 5 days later, on the 17th, our Spring issue goes live!

So, I'm gonna do a shameless plug. Visit the Pulse Fashion Show online and get a ticket: www.pulsefashionshow.com - I would love to see ya'll there and have your support. The tickets for the show are 20 bucks pre-sale and the money all goes to a local charity (360youthservices.org) that offers life changing support to young men and women through education, counseling and shelter. They also have a wonderful GLBTQ collective and are one of the few programs in Illinois that offer transitional housing programs specifically catered to GLBTQ youth. Even, if you can't attend the show on the 12th, please consider making a donation to their gofundme page HERE.

Exciting stuff going on with some new additions to our creative and writing staff! We have a new photographer/director, 2 new writers and another digital youtube editor on board! Everyone welcome Molly Rosenberger and Andrea Hannah - They will be blogging on the beauty, fashion and lifestyle beats.  We also have Traci Ciccarelli (based out in Cali) who will be working alongside Denise of Notasizezero.com and myself to help create additional youtube content (fashion, beauty and lifestyle) for our youtube channel! Thank you to those of you who have subscribed already and if you haven't please do so HERE !! Also, we have some great new episodes of Halfstack Highlights on itunes! So, take a second and download them HERE.

Andrea Pabon - a Chicago based photographer and director is one of the latest additions to our art dept. She worked with me on one of our fashion features for this upcoming issue and her latest short film: In Between is being featured in this issue as well. I am so honored to be able to work with such talented individuals day in and out and I hope we can keep all of you readers coming back for more!

I am also excited to share that we will be working on some fun videos with the ladies from http://pieceofchic.net - this is a blog run by two talented young ladies (Erika in Chicago and Erica in Ohio). They will be creating blog and video content with us starting on the 15th of March. So, be on the lookout! They have a great Instagram account with awesome quickie DIY videos -  check out their hashtag #babeskills and follow them online HERE.

Speaking of content, this month we are dedicating our content direction to the innovative, free thinkers and influencers of Chicago and afar who are doing great things in their communities and for their perspective industries. We will be showcasing the stories of some great stories from our issue and special ones just for the website. So, please stay tuned!

We officially release our next issue March 17. You can catch up on our last issue at: www.issuu.com/halfstackmag and check there for Spring 2015. Thank you all for your support and til next month!!!

Jen Lezan
Editor-in-chief | Creative Director

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Travel & Vacation Workouts

Last week, I wrote a blog post about taking your diet and workout regimen with you while you are on vacation. Since I just returned home from a 4-day vacation in the Bahamas, I wanted to share with you what I brought along with him and how I implemented by workouts into my vacation schedule.

Packed & Ready to Go
·         Jump rope
·         Gym shoes
·         Running shorts (2 pairs)
·         Capri pants
·         Tank tops (3)
·         Sports Bras
Workout Schedule

Day #1
Endurance Workout
- 3:00-5:00 Warm Up
- 3 x 5:00 Rounds – Running
--- Rest 2:00 between rounds

NOTES: Perform this work out on a treadmill. Set the incline at 1.5 to mimic running on the road. Warm up with a light jog for 3-5:00. Then increase the speed on the treadmill and run for 5:00. Once you have reached the 5:00 mark, decrease the speed to a walking pace. Walk for 2:00.  Repeat this cycle two more times.

Day #2
Strength & Cardio Workout
5 Rounds for Time:
10 Push Ups
*20 Dumbbell Swings
80 Rope Skips

*Using a dumbbell, ranging from 5-40-pounds. Position feet shoulder width apart. When picking up the dumbbell, remain upright and grab the middle portion with two hands. The shoulders should remain open and the back flat.

Bend the knees and then swing the dumbbell backwards slightly. Your wrists should hit about the upper to mid-thigh. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, shift your weight forward – extending the legs and squeezing the butt to ensure the hips fully open, and swing the dumbbell up to forehead level with straight arms.

Then bring the dumbbell back to the starting position, and repeat the movement for the remaining reps. 

Day #3
Body Weight & Endurance Workout
For Time:
Single Rope Skips
Sit Ups

NOTE: Perform 100 rope skips and then perform 50 sit ups and 50 squats. Then perform 80 rope skips and 40 sit ups and 40 squats. Complete the rest of the workout in the same order until all the reps have been completed.

To perform the air squat begin by placing feet shoulder width a part with the toes placed at a slight 45 degree angle. Bring the hands together overhead to help maintain a tall torso. Shift the weight back towards the heels. Sit the hips back, lowering oneself until the hips drop below knee level. At the finished position, the hip crease should be below the knee. Press through the middle of the foot until the legs are fully extended and the hips are fully opened.

Day #4
Rest and relax. J

The best part of all of these workouts is that I had them all completed within one hour. As a result, I was able to maintain my regular exercise routine without taking up too much time from my vacation.  Plus, I felt more energized throughout the day and didn’t feel quite so bad when I indulged from time to time.

For more information out working out on the road or simply in the home, be sure to check out our upcoming spring issue for more details about calorie burning movements to complete outside the gym!

The Perfect Fashion Trio

Who could pass up the perfect date night with that special someone? Surely you couldn't with specialties from Chico's, White House Black Market and Soma. Find everything you need and more to pamper yourself with these three great brands. Make 2015 a sensuous year filled with everything your heart desires!

With brilliant treasures from Chico's, find exactly what makes your outfit unforgettable. Discover golden bibs, shiny chandeliers and metal cuff this season! Don't deprive yourself from icing your outfit with unique accessories by Chico's. The Marcela Statement Necklace is a great way to stimulate your look with its rhinestone fringe and soft gemstones.
Feeling flirty? Find an array of fun and feminine dresses by White House Black Market to hug every curve. Avoid turning down the opportunity to give yourself the perfect shape with the flared skirt. These sophisticated silhouettes boost confidence and show off respected beauty from day to night. Be sure to check out the Pink Mixed Print Infinity Scarf to elevate your elegance!
To top it off, Soma provides great options for post-date night. Their sleepwear collection includes a sweet little chemise covered in floral lace with blooming embroidered details and sprinkled with pearls for added allurement—the perfect choice for your special night.

Review: La Roche-Posay BB Effaclar Mousse

I wear foundation every day. Even on my days off, I still dab a couple dots on each finger and start spreading it around like the flour on a lumpy clump of pizza dough. Maybe that’s a bad comparison because never in my life have I been equated to having a “pizza face.” It’s because I don’t have a pizza face (pizza face= mean term to describe those with acne). 

My skin has always been in good condition, sans my first two years of college, when I gained twenty pounds because I ate so much ice cream I might as well have married it. The only other things I ate besides ice cream came from, you guessed it, the Papa John’s food group. So, while I was the cliche of a college freshman, taking advantage of my new found freedom to eat whatever I wanted, I also had the problem skin that goes along with it. You are what you eat. It was during that time that I became a convert from my high school tinted moisturizer routine to being a worshiper of full coverage foundation. Only after graduating did I happen to find my holy grail foundation, forever and ever AMEN, which is the Revlon ColorStay Foundation. 

I am now coming up on year four with my product soulmate, and while we are still very much in love, I can’t deny the changes in me that are becoming harder to ignore. I have shed the twenty college born pounds. The pizza seas have parted to reveal clear skies with but the occasional pimple every now and again...especially during that time of the month when my hormones just like, go crazy, like Mel Gibson post Braveheart. Lately I have been feeling like, hey, I don’t NEED foundation. I mean, I still love foundation. I wouldn’t mind it if foundation and I stuck it out for a bit longer, but with the spring/summer months fast approaching (please, Lawd), I can’t deny my feelings any longer... It’s time to ditch this heavy layer and reveal some skin.

Cue The La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur! The brand new product touts itself as a “instant oil-absorbing coverage cream mousse” and is to be used as a daily cover-up. First of all, anything that sounds like a dessert has my attention. We know how I feel about ice cream, okay?! La Roche-Posay is a treatment line backed by dermatologists which means every product developed serves a purpose to better the quality of the skin you’re working with. The BB Blur comes in just two shades, fair/light & light/medium, which made me a little nervous at first because how on this multicultural earth are you to cover the spectrum of skin colors in two options? I chose the color fair/light, as at the drugstore I always reach for the very first color in the plethora of color slots. 

I decided to squeeze a bit out on the back of my hand, and just as I thought, there sat a shapeless orange blob. But as I rubbed it in, it seemed to disappear into my skin without a trace. What magic crosses me?! I immediately supplied my hands with a dime size amount of the BB Blur and started working it into my skin. Just as with the back of my hand, the clay tone of the product blended into my skin perfectly which I can really only describe as a miracle of beauty. Not only that, but the texture of the product is so silky. Just the act of spreading it around my face felt luxurious in an “I should be wearing a long string of pearls while applying this” sort of way. There’s always next time. And there will definitely be a next time! 

(the blob)

The La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur is the perfect product for daytime and provided enough coverage to completely even out my skin tone, even dimming a few dark spots from healing pimple offenders! It is true to its medium-coverage claim in that it covered enough to camouflage, yet remain natural looking (great for those with freckles or freckle in the sun) which is an important aspect when thinking about the warmer months ahead. Nobody wants to see your cakey foundation melting across your jawline, down your neck, and onto your cute little white sundress, therefore becoming not so cute. The product’s dual purpose to both subtly cover and treat your skin is only a further bonus, as we can all attest that while summer is super amazing, at the same time it can be a super bummer due to the heat conjuring sweat and clogged pores. To the rescue, the BB Blur is an oil-reducing matte formula which I cannot wait to slap on and take for a test bike ride on a TBA sunny day.

Recommended for both “acne prone skin”, “sensitive skin”, and “oily/shiny skin” on the product website, I believe everyone is a candidate for the BB Blur, unless oil evades your skin or you cannot produce sweat. In that case, PM me about the details, PRONTO. It’s like, are you getting the same botox injected into your face that they inject into your underarms to reduce sweating? Hashtag, gotta know! For all other cases, if you have been looking for a new face product, the Effaclar BB Blur is the answer and a game changer! 

(day one of many wearing the Effaclar BB Blur...Goldfish not endorsed, but highly recommended)
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