COMFORT IS BEAUTY

Earth Day: 10 Simple Ways to Start Saving the Earth Today

With Earth Day just two days away, we should each consider our environmental footprint.  The earth is big and we are small, but together we can make a tremendous difference, not only on a local level, but also globally.  Starting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle may seem daunting.  Like any lifestyle changes, baby steps are the best approach to long term change.  We’re sharing 10 simple ways to start saving the earth today as an initial step to jumpstart or renew your commitment to sustainable practices this Earth Day.

woman-on-pinterest1)      Pay bills and view statements online.  Most of us get between five and ten regular monthly bills and at least one bank statement a month.  If these are mailed to you, the paper being used grows pretty quickly over the course of a year.  That’s not to mention the ink, energy to print and environmental expense of sending items through the mail.  Cut down on all of these negative impacts by paying bills and viewing statements online.  Most utility, phone and television companies, as well as banks, offer online options to keep your bills in order and cut out unnecessary snail mail.

2)      Bring reusable cloth bags to stores.  Plastic bags are not biodegradable and often end up in the ocean and eventually the food chain.  This wastefulness (and health hazard) can be avoided by bringing your own cloth bags whenever you go shopping.  This not only includes the grocery store, but also when you shop for clothes or visit discount department stores.  Cloth bags will be sturdier anyways.

3)      Change your light bulbs.  Compact florescent light bulbs create significantly less pollution than regular high watt light bulbs.  If the tone of the light bothers your eyes, use them in spaces where you don’t spend much time, such as closets, pantries and your garage.

4)      Pick up litter when you see it.  It may seem unpleasant but cleaning up trash from around your neighborhood and parks is a big way you can support your community.  Besides being unsightly, trash can disturb animal habitats and lead to harmful water streams.  Litter is a public danger and fire hazard too.  Plus, if you don’t pick it up, someone will be hired to do it, which will cost you money in the long run.

Best-BPA-Free-Water-Bottles-e14284211584945)      Don’t drink bottled water.  With all the wonderful reusable, dishwasher safe water bottles available, drinking bottled water on a regular basis is just not necessary, even if you recycle the bottles.  Plastic is not biodegradable in landfills and can cause water and air pollution.

6)      Use rechargeable batteries.  Disposable batteries pose a big threat to our environment because they contain heavy metals that eventually release into the air.  Buying a battery charger and rechargeable batteries prevents battery accumulation in landfills.  This expense will also pay off as you will not have to continuously buy batteries.

7)      Maintain your car.  When your car works optimally, it will release less harmful emissions and save on gas.  Regularly checking oil levels, tire pressure and air filters will ensure your car works properly.  Maintenance and improving the performance of your car may prevent major issues that could impact the environment and cost a lot of money to repair.  Also, try not to carry around extra weight as that requires more gas.

newspaper-gift-wrap8)      Wrap gifts creatively.  Instead of buying wrapping paper and gift bags, get creative with your gift wrap.  Use newspapers, paper grocery bags or your child’s artwork as a fun and unique way to give a present.

9)      Unplug unused electronics and turn off your computer.  Believe it or not, leaving cell phone chargers, night lights and hand-held vacuums plugged in all the time pulls energy as does leaving your computer on all night.  Besides lamps and clocks, try to unplug items when they are not in use to save household energy.

10)  Use water conservatively.  Running water can be quite wasteful.  Baths, long showers and leaving the faucet on while brushing your teeth are among the biggest unnecessary uses of household water.  Also, only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load.  Use warm or cold water for your clothes as hot water uses much more energy.

 

Happy Earth Day!

The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Believe it or not, dark chocolate is a superfood.  Yup, that scrumptious dark chocolate bar not only tingles your taste buds, but it’s also really good for your health.

uptown-darkchocolateDark chocolate is made from raw cacao beans, the natural seeds of the Theobroma Cacao tree.  These beans are chock full of powerful nutrients that support healthy bodies in a variety of ways.  Cacao beans contain important vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fiber, amino acids, enzymes and many other phyto-nutrients.  Most of all, cacao boasts an unprecedented spectrum of antioxidants with huge life-supporting advantages.

Unfortunately, most of the chocolate we come across is processed with sugar, milk and other unhealthy ingredients.  But dark chocolate with 70% cacao (or cocoa) or greater is a superfood that is super good for you.

The health benefits of dark chocolate include…

Heart Health:  The heart wants what the heart wants so give it some chocolate.  Antioxidants and plant sterols found in dark chocolate help reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure levels. That reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and many life-threatening heart conditions.

Weight Loss:  Chocolate for weight loss…who new?  Studies indicate that indulging in a small amount of dark chocolate reduces cravings for high fat, sugary and salty foods.   Eliminating these extra calories leads to weight loss.  Pretty good trade off!

Disease Fighter:  Antioxidants are the world’s leading nutrient for fighting a variety of diseases that stem from free radical oxidation and inflammation.  Antioxidants protect and repair damage to cells that lead to cell-mutation diseases like cancer and other age-related degenerative diseases.

chocolate-happy-3-300x212Mood Enhancement:  When you bite into chocolate you may notice that you feel really good.  Well, it’s not just because it tastes good.  Cacao contains neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and MAO inhibitors that can instantly elevate your mood.  Fight your dark mood with a dose of dark chocolate.

Stress Relief:  Next time you need a chill pill, grab a dark chocolate bar instead of a beer, cigarette or entire cheesecake.  The nutritive properties in dark chocolate help reduce stress hormones that can wreak havoc on the body and mind.  We don’t always have time for a relaxing day at the spa so make dark chocolate your quick fix for stress and anxiety.

Diabetes Management:  Although traditional candy is not recommended for diabetics, the flavenoid antioxidants in dark chocolate stimulate production of nitric oxide that helps regulate insulin.

Cognitive Improvement:  Dark chocolate improves blood flow and increases energy, two important aspects of brain function, memory, alertness and focus.  Plus, cacao supports brain cells and reduces inflammation that can lead to brain deterioration.

It’s undeniable: the health benefits of dark chocolate are amazing!  Make this delicious superfood part of your healthy lifestyle for your physical, mental and emotional well-being!

Springtime Full Figure Fashion: The Rules of Cardigans

Cardigans are part of most women’s wardrobe and are an essential element of most springtime uniforms.  As the mornings and evenings tend to be cooler and the midday sun is hot, layering is a great way to dress for the fickle weather.  But like most pieces in your wardrobe, different styles of cardigans work better on certain body shapes and when paired with the right outfits.  We’re breaking down the rules of cardigans for you to keep things light and breezy in your springtime full figure wardrobe.

There are four basic styles of cardigans:  fitted waist, oversized drape, crop and boyfriend.  Each may have a place in your wardrobe as long as you wear them in the most flattering ways for your body type.

fitted

 

Fitted Waist Cardigan:  This classic cardigan is great with blouses of a similar length, A-line dresses or high-waisted skirts.  Contrasting colors make a beautiful spring outfit.  Try matching your jewelry and shoes to the color of your cardigan for trendy and polished look.  Avoid shirts that hang well below the fitted cardigan as it may distort your body shape.  Also, make sure the cardigan does not hit at the center of your bottom, which may cut you off at an unflattering spot.

 

drapeOversized Drape Cardigan:  These comfy sweaters are super stylish for spring.  The longer style helps lengthen the body the draping adds interesting detail and texture.  Some oversized sweaters feature playful necklines and single buttons as well.  Because these cardigans tend to be bulky, pair them with a slim pant such as skinny jeans or leggings.  This look will also benefit from a bold shoe, perhaps a riding boot, galosh or thick heel.  Oversized sweaters work great in solids or classic prints.

 

cropCrop Cardigan:  This short and sweet piece is ideal for springtime.  Many crop cardigans have shorter sleeves and are lighter weight, which will keep you nice and cool on warm days.  Crop cardigans hit below the breast making them terrific with empire-waist dresses and pencil skirts.

boyfriend


Boyfriend Cardigan:
  This relaxed fit sweater looks lovely with jeans, shorts and knee-length shorts.  Unless you are belting it, wear the boyfriend cardigan open to show off your figure.  Don’t wear boyfriends with pleated or bulky skirts as they will fall at an awkward place and add unnecessary poof, especially on the backside.  If your boyfriend cardigan has pockets, definitely use them during stylish poses!

 

To keep your springtime full figure wardrobe fresh and fashionable, try these cardigan tips:

  • Pair a fitted waist sweater with a collared shirt.  Fold the sleeves of your shirt over the cardigan to create a trendy three-quarter length ensemble.
  • Tie the ends of your cardigan together for a flirty twist.  This looks great with high-waisted skirts.
  • Wear a belt with your longer cardigans to accentuate your curves.  This creates definition and shape, even if your cardigan is not form-fitting.
  • Play around with the buttons.  While many women leave their cardigans completely open, just fastening a few buttons in the middle can be a sleek and slimming look.
  • Solid color cardigans are great staples in your springtime wardrobe, but buy a few fun ones too.  Adding some floral print, swanky patterns or playful textures will brighten your look.

Enjoy exploring new possibilities with cardigans this spring!

Why Working Out in the Morning is Better (especially during Spring)

You may not be a morning person but your metabolism is.  Studies have shown that working out in the morning is better for the body and mind on many levels.  Setting your alarm earlier than usual may not be your idea of an energy-boosting way to start your day but it is absolutely the best time of day to do some heart-pounding, muscle-building exercises.  Today we’re discussing why working out in the morning is better and how to get into the habit.

Working out in the morning has a ton of great advantages.  From elevated weight loss and energy, to a sense of pride, accomplishment and a healthier daily outlook, shifting your workout to the morning may be the springtime change your body needs.  Cool spring working outmornings offer an excellent opportunity to get outdoors for jogging, cycling or boot camp.  Now that we’ve “sprung forward” you may even get to experience the sunrise, which can be an uplifting moment unto itself.

Whether your goal is weight loss, weight management or just maintaining a strong and healthy body, morning workouts can keep you on a path to success.  Your metabolism is somewhat like a wind-up toy.  The more you wind it, the faster it will work churning food for sustained energy and burning through stored fat.  Studies show that working out before breakfast can help you lose up to 20% more weight and can combat weight gain from a high fat diet.  Once the metabolism gets started for the day, it will continue to work hard for you, even while you’re at rest.  And working out in the morning often gives people a healthier perspective and encourages them to keep up their good work by eating well and abstaining from unhealthy habits.

Although you may not believe it, you probably have more energy in the morning than later in the day.  Waiting until the afternoon or evening to work out often leads to major procrastination and skipping the workout all together.  After you wipe the sleep out of your eyes and have a cup of coffee, you should feel the great benefits of the full night’s rest you just had.  Use that energy to your advantage by getting your workout in early.  After a few months you’ll be able to train your body to push harder in the mornings than you would after a long day of work, kids, and other responsibilities.

Working out in the morning also gives you a sense of accomplishment.  If you can power through a tough workout, you can tackle anything in your day.  You can start your day in a positive mood, with less stress and a more balanced approach to any problems that come your way.  Plus, you don’t have to dread the workout all day because it’s already over.  Additionally, you may feel more beautiful – Working out gives your skin a healthy flushed glow and natural oil secretions can tame a bad hair day.

If you have trouble waking early, there are some hacks you can use to get yourself up and at ‘em.  Try setting two alarms and at least one that is not near your bed so you have to get up to turn it off.  Shock your system by turning on a bright light, loud music and washing your face with cool water immediately upon waking up.  Make sure you have a plan and are prepared for your workout by having your clothes, gym bag and sports equipment ready to go the night before.  Schedule a morning class or make plans to meet a friend in the morning so others can help hold you accountable.  Also respect your routine and stay focused on your goals.  The more you do it, the easier it will be.  Seeing progress towards your goals – mores stamina, better health report, weight loss, etc.. – will help you remain motivated too.

Happy spring training!!

 

 

Spring Clean your Diet

With warmer weather and a new crop of produce hitting markets, spring is a great time to clean up your diet.  Ditch the heavy foods like red meats, starches and sugary snacks and “spring” for a lighter fare including seasonal fruits and veggies, lean proteins and lots of water.  Today we’re offering tips on how to spring clean your diet.


Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

eating-fruit-and-vegetables-will-keep-you-healthyA balanced diet should focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Did you know you’ll get the most nutrition out of produce when they are seasonally ripe?  Better yet, they’ll be freshest and bursting with the best nutrients when you buy fresh and local because they won’t have to be packaged and maintained for long distance travel.  Spring fruits include strawberries, pineapple, honeydew melon, cherries, oranges and apricots.  Spring vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, fennel, peas, radishes and green beans.  Incorporate these new flavors of the season into your diet and try to consume them as raw as possible to preserve their maximum nutritional value.  As always, bright colors usually make the healthiest foods so play up the colors of spring and eat the rainbow.

Lighten your Protein

Lean proteins are healthiest year round and spring is a great time to lighten up on your protein.  We don’t mean eat less protein; we mean go leaner with meats like chicken, turkey and fish or try meat alternatives such as nuts and beans.  Many people look to heavy, dark meats for warmth and sustenance during cold, winter months.  As the weather warms, our meals can cool down a bit and get lighter too.  In addition to having less fat and calories, lean proteins offer some terrific additional perks like the essential fatty acids found in many types of fish and nuts, and iron found in beans.


Hydrate with Nature

waterPerhaps nature’s way of subtly encouraging us to hydrate is through spring showers.  Much like the budding leaves and flowers need a good amount of water this season, so do you!  Cut out the sugary sodas and work on purifying your body by increasing your water intake.  Most people need eight to nine 8 oz. servings of water a day, and more if you sweat a lot or exercise intensely.  Because a huge percentage of our bodies is water, replacing what’s lost through normal channels is vital.  Beyond quenching your thirst, water keeps cellular function strong, aids digestion, supports blood flow and increases energy.  Try natural herbal teas as an additional way to consume enough water every day.

Clean out your Kitchen

As you’re working your way through your house with various spring cleaning tasks, do the same with the food in your kitchen.  Toss sugary snacks, anything with trans fat and other hard-to-resist foods that offer little nutritional value.  If it’s not on hand, can’t reach for it when you’re having a snack attack.  Stock your kitchen with healthy foods, especially those you can grab on-the-go.  These include single servings of yogurt (but avoid those with highly sugary fruit on the bottom), nuts, whole fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal and plain microwave popcorn.  Set yourself up for success by spring cleaning your pantry and fridge too.

Try New Recipes

Spring is a great time to research new recipes.  Go online or ask friends for suggestions.  Then spend a few days trying a bunch of new things.  Involve your family in the process by asking them to help you cook and being your taste testers.  It can be a fun family activity and you may discover a few new meals that will become a staple in your family’s spring diet.

Spring Allergies, Here We Come

The beauty of spring is often overshadowed by its negative side effect: spring allergies.  With budding trees, flowers, grasses and weeds come some horrible symptoms for millions of people who suffer from allergies.  Today we’re taking a look at what causes spring allergies and ways to reduce the symptoms so you can enjoy springtime.

If you want to blame someone or something for your allergies, it would have to be your immune system.  Allergies are an over-response from the immune system.  When you come into contact with harmful substances, your body works hard to defend itself and remain healthy.  Allergens are not actually a threat to the body, but your body perceives o-TISSUE-COUGHING-SNEEZING-facebookthem as such and goes into overdrive mode to protect you.  Most allergies form in childhood and once they are triggered, your body has the same response each time you come in contact with that allergen.  Sometimes allergies lead to more severe conditions like asthma, so treating your allergies or learning ways to cope with them is important for all allergy sufferers.

The most common indoor allergens are mold spores, pet dander and dust mites.  But in springtime, pollen from flowers, trees, grasses and weeds is the worst culprit of allergies.  Because pollen is the issue, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the pollen count in your area.  Avoid outdoor activities on days when the pollen count is highest, especially in the morning.  Also try to remain indoors on windy days when pollen will be extremely airborne.  Pawn off yard work to non allergy sufferers, but if you must be outside during high pollen season, wear a face mask and remove your clothes immediately afterwards.  For those with spring allergies, the best time to go outside is after a good rain.

You can take several measures in your home to avoid severe allergy symptoms too.  Use air conditioning in your home and car instead of rolling down the windows.  In your home, be sure your air filters are cleaned regularly.  Use a high efficiency particulate air vacuum to clean your home – it won’t spread the allergens you are trying to suck up back into the air.  Also use a dehumidifier to further assist keeping the air in your home free of allergens.

Many people rely on over-the-counter medications to help reduce symptoms of allergies.  There are several types recommended by allergists:  oral and inhaled antihistamines, decongestants and inhaled corticosteroids.  Antihistamines work well for many allergy sufferers in both a nasal spray and pill format.  They are not addictive but they may become less effective over time, meaning you should switch brands occasionally.  Antihistamines can cause drowsiness so if you are not taking it just before bedtime, find a non-drowsy brand.  Decongestants are meant for short term nasal and sinus issues, such as colds.  Although they may temporarily relieve congestion caused by allergies, taking them for longer periods of time can be dangerous.

There are also some natural remedies that work well for many people with spring allergies.  Consuming stinging nettle leaf, butterbur, apple cider vinegar or honey made in your area can all help reduce allergy symptoms.  Clearing your nasal passages may offer relief.  This can be achieved through steam showers, eating spicy foods, smelling strong aromas such as peppermint or eucalyptus oil or doing a nasal rinse. Probiotics should also help, in theory.  Much of immune health is based in the gut so balancing good flora in the intestines can support immune strength.

Spring allergies are no fun for anyone.  Hopefully with these tips you can find ways to reduce your spring allergy symptoms and enjoy the warm, beauty and radiance of springtime.

10 Reasons to Strengthen your Body that are NOT about Health or Appearance

full figure sports braStrength training is an important part of a well-balanced exercise regimen.  Many of us like to have toned muscles and it’s also good for our health.  But there are more practical reasons than pure health and aesthetics.  Today we’re sharing 10 reasons to strengthen your body that you may not have thought of before:

 

 1)  You can enjoy nature.

Visiting the oasis of a waterfall and climbing back up again, hiking up a mountain to enjoy beautiful views and creating a garden in your yard are a few of the wonderful parts of nature and spending time outdoors that are enhanced when your body is stronger.  Climbing, hiking and gardening require great leg strength, flexibility and balance.

 2)  You can walk better in heels.

Strong calf muscles and solid glutials are essential for walking in heels.  They support your foot on an elevated plane and allow the fluctuations required for stride.  If you wear heels daily and suffer the pain every night, strengthen your calves and bottom for a more comfortable experience.

3)  You can play harder with your kids.

As you know, your kids are non-stop.  And nothing is more fun than when mom plays too.  Playing chase, climbing on the jungle gym, crawling through forts and rolling around on the ground for a tickle match takes a lot of agility and stamina.  Plus, the normal bending over, squatting and kneeling to help your kids with school work and play takes strength as well.  Be the “down on the floor” kind of parent that meets your kids at their level.  All it takes is a little muscle and a lot of love.

4)  You will be better at sex.

Sex can be a heart-pumping workout but it is easier and perhaps more fun when your body is stronger.  Flexibility and stamina both come into play to enjoy a variety of positions for you and your partner.  This includes your legs, arms and core, especially the pelvic floor.

5)  You can stand longer.

Standing for a long time is hard work and takes strength.  And while you may not see the joy in standing in line to renew your license or to checkout at the grocery store, you probably do enjoy the standing and walking required to go shopping.  Bottom line here, with more strength, you can be a better shopper!

6)  You can eat more.

Building muscle helps burn through calories and fat all day long.  As we’ve all heard, muscle burns more calories than fat.  Strengthening muscles not only tones but revs the metabolism for a steady churn, even while at rest.  This resting metabolic rate is the energy you burn while not even moving…and the higher, the better.  With more muscle, you can eat more and indulge more without even noticing the effects on your body.

7)  You can dance better.

Whether you frequent dance clubs, attend a lot of weddings or enjoy partying in front of your mirror, dancing requires strength and stamina.  If you don’t want to get winded after one song, work on your lower body and core muscles.  For more advanced dancing like ballroom, ballet and break-dancing, you’ll need your upper body strength too.

8)  You can get there faster.

If you are the one who is perpetually in a hurry or running late, you are probably always trying to get somewhere fast.  Running into your office, your kids’ school or a doctor’s appointment will be quicker if you have more leg strength and cardio stamina.  You might not change your proclivity to run late but at least you can speed up your arrival with body strength.  Plus, you won’t be huffing and puffing when you get there.

9)  You can defend yourself.

Self defense is one of the most important reasons to keep your body strong.  Although it’s scary to consider, being approached by an attacker requires some quick thinking and body strength.  Attackers are most often males, and probably stronger than you, so knowing how to use your body to shield yourself, deliver a defensive blow and run away is crucial.  Whether or not you take formal self defense classes, you need body strength to protect yourself in emergency situations.

10)  You can squat hover over a toilet seat.

We’ve all been there:  you’re in dire need of a toilet and the only option looks like it could give you a serious disease.  So we employ the age old tactic of squatting over the toilet seat.  Guess what?  You need lots of quad, glute and hamstring strength to hold a static squat for that long.  Keep your bum clean by building those upper leg muscles.  You will surely be glad you did next time you do the toilet hover.

Full Figure Fashion Update: Spring Fashion 2015

Spring has sprung – We’re ready to shed the layers and get our wardrobes ready for the new season. How about you?  Today we’re brining you the latest full figure fashion update for spring 2015.  So, let’s hop right in!

Color

yellow_courtesy of ellecanada.comThe colors of the season are bold and a mix of classic combos along with modern hues.  Move over pastels because this spring calls for bright yellow for any piece in your wardrobe, from blouses and blazers, to dresses and slacks.  The classic black and white combo is in style for spring 2015 along with mixing true blue and white.  These color juxtapositions, especially in whimsical prints and patterns, a make a big statement.  Also look for white-on-white outfits and military green this season.


Prints & Fabrics

Modern gingham was all the rage at spring fashion week.  Spring-2015-Collections-Trends-Gingham-Plaid-Fashion-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-3Designers are taking a new twist on this classic print and bringing gingham to a new level.  Form-loving outfits including sexy suits, sassy dresses and two piece mid-drift ensembles are defining the new gingham look.  Denim is also back in full swing for spring 2015 in several styles, such as denim dresses, denim tops paired with denim skirts, pants and shorts, denim shoes, and roomy, wide-leg denim crop pants.  Or go native with funky colored suede or a wild full animal safari print.   Don’t be afraid to mix floral prints this season too.

Styles

spring_summer_2015_fashion_trends_1970s_fashion_fashionisersMany of the runway looks for spring are a subtle nod to the 1970s.  This hippie, meets bohemian, meets earthy look is breezy and easy-to-wear for all body types.  Military and sporty minimalism trends also popped up on the runway for spring 2015.  You may see jackets and skirts with lots of pockets, combat boots and sharp lines.  Plus you’ll notice sleek athletic-inspired fashion wear, even in traditional feminine garments.

In dresses, look for shirt-dress styles that offer a flattering empire waist or a flowing maxi with an interesting neckline.  Try a crop denim coat for casual wear this spring and go for a kimono-style flowing coat for any occasion.  Both are lightweight and right on trend.  Tops can also be blousy and experiment with an off-the-shoulder look for a playful change when the occasion is right.  Pants can be cropped, and culottes are sticking around for spring too.  Aprons as fashion statements are making a comeback over shorts, skirts and pants.

As you’re preparing your full figure fashion wardrobe for spring, don’t forget to update your bras too.  With the change of season when you buy new clothes, it’s a good time to re-evaluate which full figure bras are ready to be spring cleaned and tossed into the donation box and where your bra wardrobe is lacking.  New pieces in your closet may require different bras.  As always, Leading Lady is standing by to help enhance your spring wardrobe.

Happy Spring Shopping, Leading Ladies!!

Living with Passion

Untitled-1We are all happier and more productive in life when we are doing something we enjoy.  Put another way, living with passion makes us more whole.  This probably isn’t news to any of us.  But for most of us, finding how to live with passion and when to practice our passions is another story.

In our goal-oriented lives filled with responsibilities, figuring out ways of living with passion can be quite difficult. It definitely takes some soul searching and dedication.  Here are three tips for living with passion:

1)      Revisit the Past:  When we’re young living with passion was second nature.  We were constantly having fun and doing things we enjoyed.  And we were able to find passion in almost anything.  Take a journey backwards to remember what brought you joy throughout your life, even as a child.  Often passions emerge at a young age and you can strive to regain some of that passion by revisiting the past.  Spend some time meditating on the past, asking family members what you used to love to do, looking at old pictures of yourself or returning to places of your youth.  The sights, sounds and smells of childhood can help you find a common thread and reignite the youthful excitement you’re seeking.

passion2)      Identify your Passions:  Try to pinpoint what it is you are passionate about… And don’t be afraid to say it out loud.  Sometimes passions are hard to admit to ourselves because we may not see them stemming from a productive path or we may have strayed far from them already.  Let go of the “rules” you’ve established for denying your passions and really try to identify what brings you joy.  Once you come clean with yourself, let others know what you are passionate about.  Discussing passions with others will further engage you in pursing them and may spark ideas on how to live your dreams.  Some people create a “vision board” of pictures, writings and other things that keep them on the path towards their passions.

3)      Incorporate your Passions in your Everyday Life:  Life is very busy and you probably cannot quit your job and leave behind your responsibilities to singularly follow your passions.  But you can make a commitment to living with passion by incorporating what makes you happy into your existing lifestyle.  For instance:  Your passions can be fulfilled through volunteering if you can’t pursue them as a career – You may be an accountant but your passion is for nature so you can volunteer in ways to improve your environment or educate others about nature.  You can create space in your home to practice passions – such as creating an art studio, woodworking shop, movie theater or writing room.  You can join a group of people with a similar passion – perhaps who are training for a marathon or going back to school for an advanced degree.  Or you can research and role play, literally pretending you are “the best” at whatever you’re passionate about – like being a gourmet chef for a dinner party among friends or performing a one-woman show on open mic night.

Living with passion takes some work but it is well worth it. Life is too short for dissatisfaction and discontent.  Bring the passion back to your life, starting with these three steps.

We wish you much passion today and always!

How to Store Winter Clothes

It’s about time to pull out your capris, pastels and sandals to get your closet ready for spring.  But what’s a girl to do with all of her winter clothes when they are out of season?

Proper storage will maintain the integrity of your clothes while also giving you space for your spring wardrobe.  And by proper storage we don’t mean shoving sweaters, coats and thick pants into a cardboard box and not revisiting them again until next October.  Your fashionista detective skills worked tirelessly to curate your fabulous wardrobe so don’t let all that hard work go to waste by not ensuring your clothes are well taken care while not in use.  Here are some tips on how to store winter clothes during the off season:

Storage Containers:  There are a variety of options for storing clothes.  Cardboard boxes are not an ideal choice because they are acidic and the glue that binds them together often attracts bugs.  Plus, they are flimsy and while they may cost less now, you’ll definitely store winter clotheshave to replace them more often.  Spring for plastic containers with lids to keep your clothes sealed safely.  Be sure to pick a size that fits your storage space.  For instance, if you’re stacking boxes in your closet, large, deep rectangles work well.  For under the bed, shallow, long rectangles are preferable.  You may want boxes with wheels that are easy to slide out from tight space or moveable from room-to-room.

Alternatively, you can use storage containers you may already have at home.  Large comforter cases make great clothes storage bags.  They are malleable and can therefore fit in many types of spaces.  Suitcases are another terrific place to pack your off-season clothes because they are sturdy, spacious and you have to store them somewhere anyways.  If you have to keep your clothes in sight, opt for fun bins or baskets with patterns that match your home décor.  Place a blanket on top so it appears to be a basket of cozy rather than your entire winter wardrobe.

Storage Location:  Cool, dry and dark locales are the best storage places for your clothes.  You’ll want good air circulation as heat can damage clothing fibers.  Plus, direct sunlight can fade fabrics so a darker space is better.  Attics are tempting but can get very hot in the summertime.  If an indoor closet isn’t an option, see what storage space you can make in your garage.  Some crafty people hang tracks from the ceiling of their garage and dangle their storage bins overhead.  Be sure the space is accessible so you can check on your clothes every once in a while.  You’ll want to make sure there is no water damage or bug infestation.  Both of these problems can be remedied if discovered quickly.

Wash Clothes First:  Be sure to thoroughly clean your clothes before storing them.  Stains, dirt or even particles left on clothes can stain them permanently.  Bugs are also attracted to certain unclean scents that may linger on your wardrobe.  You’ll probably want to wash clothes again before wearing them the following season.

Organize:  Before you store winter clothes purge items that you haven’t worn in several years.  Someone else less fortunate could probably get more use out of it than you.  Also, pack like items together: sweaters with sweaters; pants with pants; etc…  Label your boxes so you know where to find things should the spring weather take a turn and you need to pull out a few items on the fly.  Put winter coats near the back of your storage space and potentially useful things closer to the front so they are more easily accessible.

Hang Only What You Must:  Hanging heavy clothes for too long can cause them to lose their shape or stretch.  Only hang items when it is completely necessary.  Always use an appropriate hanger for the garment.  Suits and coats will most certainly need sturdier and better padded hangers.  Use the loops on your clothes to reinforce them on the hanger.

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