Saturday, June 28, 2008

Homemade Spa

It is wonderful to be able to take some time and go to a day spa for rejuvenation, but for many SAHM's, we just do not have the time or the money to be able to do this. Here are some great homemade spa recipes, so get your hubby to watch the kids, and take a hour to relax, run a bath and recreate your own spa.


Oatmeal Skin Soother

Add 1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers (I use chamomile tea) and 1/2 cup dried sage leaves to one cup oatmeal. Place in a cotton sock (or the cut off foot of some old pantyhose) and tie tightly. Steep in bath water for a few minutes, and then use mixture as a body scrub. If you don't like the smell of these herbs, another great combination is dried rose petals and lavender.

Peppermint Sugar Foot Scrub

In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup raw sugar with just enough olive oil to moisten. Add three drops of peppermint essential oil. Soak feet, the rub sugar mixture over feet.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Green Overload?

I recently read a great article from the NY Times, "That Buzz In Your Ear May Be Green Noise" that talked about the constant "green" messages that we are all bombarded with, many of them conflicting each other, and are we as consumers starting to tune out? In the article, Suzanne Shelton, president of the Shelton Group, an advertising and market research agency focusing on environmental products, stated that in the last six months, over half of the people in their focus groups rolled their eyes when presented with an environmentally themed advertisement, as if to say, "not another green message". I must admit, when the new Omo concentrated laundry detergent came out, I was highly cynical (and critical) of the ad campaign that spoke about the major benefit of the smaller packaging being more environmentally friendly due to lower transport costs.

So, do we throw the baby out with the bath water? How do we decide what path to take? Do I use disposable nappies that fill up landfills, or cloth nappies that use a lot of water and energy to launder? My suggestion is to use your common sense, and do what you can. Here are some simple tips that most of us can incorporate into our lives:

  • Buy fresh produce in season and choose local where possible.
  • Minimise the purchase of processed foods - not only are these foods generally more unhealthy than unprocessed foods, processing and transport will be much worse for the environment.
  • Reduce the amount of packaging you buy - buy products in bulk, and avoid single serve items. Decant into smaller, reusable containers at home.
  • Use cold water for your laundry - for general laundry items, cold water is just as effective, especially if you use a detergent designed for cold water.
  • Turn off lights and appliances not in use.
  • Make your children (and your husband) their lunches and serve in reusable lunchboxes.
  • Make sure your appliances are running effectively - aircon and heating filters should be cleaned monthly, as should refrigerator coils.
  • Check out www.simplesteps.org for some great ideas that are broken down into things that can be done in a minute, a morning or a month.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sore Throat Tea

With the cold winter weather in full swing here in Perth, lots of people around me are coming down with sniffles and sore throats. This tea is very soothing and warming, and I like to think that drinking it every few days has helped me stay free of colds.




Sore Throat Tea

Place a teaspoon each of chopped fresh thyme, sage and ginger root in a 500ml (2 cup) teapot and top with boiling water. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, then strain into two cups. Add some lemon juice to one cup, sweeten to taste with honey, and sip. Set the other cup aside to cool and use as a gargle several times a day.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Let Out Your Inner French Woman And Stand Out From The Crowd!

I recently saw this article, and thought my readers may find it interesting. Popular culture generally depicts the French woman as the epitome of chic, and the following article has some great ideas on how to release the inner french girl in all of us as we journey on our paths to being Chic Mummies. For a more in-depth look at ways to bring some French chicness into your life, then check out the wonderful book, Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Bringing Out Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier.

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Let Out Your Inner French Woman And Stand Out From The Crowd!

How often have you asked yourself what the style secrets are behind the effortless chic of French women? From elegant fragrances, amazing clothes, classic chic styles, lean silhouettes (even with the cheese, wine and chocolate), perceived natural beauty, you can’t help but ask yourself how they do it!

By Marion Chamberlain
Copyright (c) 2007 MMC Lifestyles, LLC, dba MMC Style

How often have you asked yourself what the style secrets are behind the effortless chic of French women? From elegant fragrances, amazing clothes, classic chic styles, lean silhouettes (even with the cheese, wine and chocolate), perceived natural beauty, you can’t help but ask yourself how they do it! Believe it or not - it’s easy when you know how. And, yes, I daresay we all have an “Inner French Woman” who is dying to spring to the surface, like a flower’s blossom gently unfolds.

In America, as women, we’ve become “victim” to a self-punishing, depriving and self-sabotaging nature. A lot of times, we’ve given up on ourselves to fully serve others and putting our needs aside. We’re inspired by fear and self-loathing. So, in order to fill the void, the style of American women tends to revolve around the “more is more, new is best” idea. Our approach to fashion, food and fitness subscribes to this dictum, which is the absolute opposite of French style.

Here are the secrets of French women you can use to help you stand out from the crowd:

  1. French women intimately know their body and which styles look good on them. They do not beat themselves up for perceived flaws, but know how to creatively put emphasis on their assets. French women have more personality when it comes to their style - they own their look. So, it’s key to establish a unique look that works for you.
  2. French women buy a handful of good quality, neutral-colored staples that they can mix and match with each other for maximum wear. They do not “collect” clothing. Clothing is an investment and is meant for a return on their investment. They also know when to purge an item.
  3. French women know the power of accessories. They cherish four to five high-end fashion accessories (costume jewelry and scarves) that they wear all the time. They might add one or two new trendy pieces each season and wear them out. They also invest in high quality everyday leather handbags and shoes, keeping their return on investment in mind.
  4. French women become friends with a great hair stylist who is skilled at working with their hair type. They get a fuss-free hairstyle and maintain it with great conditioners.
  5. French women treat their skin as the treasure it is. Get a facial every month or just give yourself a weekly facial. Maintain, protect and nourish your skin daily. If you have great skin, you radiate and barely need any make-up.
  6. French women use make-up as an aid to emphasize their beautiful features, not hide them under layers and layers of coating. The principle applied is: less is more. Your basics include: tinted moisturizer with SPF, a light powder, blush, a great mascara and a lipstick or lip gloss.
  7. French women know only too well that you are what you eat, which is why they follow a diet that is rich in seasonal produce, red meat and oily fish - all of which help to keep a figure trim and hair, nails and skin in tip-top condition. To further boost their skin’s radiance, French women will also drink plenty of water and, for general well-being, eat a little of what they fancy - including chocolate and a glass of red wine. They relish in the pleasure of small indulgences and do not beat themselves up, like American women. Everything in moderation and smaller portions.
  8. French women believe in getting their exercise throughout the day, by walking and biking. The important message here is to not become obsessed about your fitness activities, but pursue them with pleasure. If you hate the stair climber or even going to the gym, find something that gives you enjoyment and not dread. And again, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not keeping up with all your colleagues latest fitness center stories. It’s time to be unique and do what is fun for you! Follow the French on a balanced and time-tested approach to life.

Keeping the above secrets in mind, you are now ready to let out your inner French woman and stand out from the crowd. Unlock the world of sensory delights to discover yourself and assert your femininity!

Marion Chamberlain is founder of MMC Style (http://www.mmcstyle.com/ ), an Internet store for European fashion accessories sourced from unique and highly-talented small design shops in Europe. The online store offers high-quality European fashion jewelry and leather handbags to those women who want to be unique. MMC Style (http://www.mmcstyle.com/ ) European fashion accessories are truly unique and can't be found in department or chain stores.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celebrity Style for the SAHM

I recently saw this great photo of Eva Longoria on http://www.splashnewsonline.celebuzz.com/ and my first thought was "what a great outfit!" My second thought was how easy this look would be to achieve for a SAHM.I love the light sweater over the pretty shirt. It's perfect for a slightly cooler day, and if you decide to play chasey with your kids and you warm up, you can whip it off, displaying the lovely print shirt. The linen pants are fantastic, too - a lot of people stay clear of linen, but I find that if you shake it well when wet, and then hang it to dry, most of the wrinkles drop out. Also, linen should look slightly rumpled, in my opinion. The accessories are what really make this outfit, though. The wedge sandals are a great summer option, adding some height and leg lengthening, while still being very comfortable to wear. The oversized tote will keep everything a mum needs at hand, from sippy cups, a few diapers, and some bags of snacks, to all of the mum essentials. What I really love about the tote, though, is that it picks up the pink colour of the shirt's print.

The last great thing about Eva's look is her grooming. If you make sure you have a great haircut, you can pull your hair back into a pony, and it will still look great. Eva's looks wonderful because of the high pony, and the face framing layers. Also, she has taken a few minutes to add some volume at the crown by a bit of backcombing - this makes the pony look very polished. The neutral makeup goes so nicely with the outfit - again, her natural look is easily achieved in just a few minutes.

Another celebrity whose style I also think is great inspiration is fab mommy, Jennifer Garner. In the photo below, she is wearing a similar outfit to Eva, but the accessories make for a slightly more casual vibe.

Check out the hair - like Eva, her hair is pulled back into a pony, this time with a face framing fringe swept to the side. I really love the accessories in this pic - the white tote is adorable, and it just goes to show that once you are past the bottles and diapers phase of a young baby, it is totally possible to carry all the toddler gear (a sippy cup, some wipes and a couple of diapers) in a great tote, rather than having to lug around a diaper bag. The only thing I would change about this outfit is the Haviana flip flops. I would have worn a pair of leather flip flops instead.

Jeans are the backbone of the SAHM's wardrobe, and this pic of Angeline Jolie shows how to look stylish and a touch glam while wearing them.

Like Ange, go for a very dark rinse with no faux finishes like whiskering or faded patches. The dark rinse and solid colour is very slimming and will help to lengthen your legs. Make sure they are hemmed quite long - I like my jeans to stop about 1cm above the floor. This means that you need to have two pairs of jeans if you wear flats and heels.

Ange has paired the jeans with a simple black tank, and with just these two items, you would have a very basic outfit. She has really lifted it, however, with the accessories. The low wedge heeled peep toe shoes add a hint of style while still being comfortable. The beige pashmina adds a light touch to the outfit - I really love the combination of black and beige. Add in the simple gold bangles, the sunglasses and the large tote with gold hardware and you have a very simple, but very elegant ensemble. I love her hair as well, and it is a nice change from the standard pony.

There are two things that link all three of these celeb outfits - sunglasses and an oversized tote. Both are essential items to help finish off your wardrobe. All three outfits are made up of very classic, timeless and basic clothes. There is nothing in any of the clothes themselves that most SAHM's wouldn't already have in their own wardrobes. What really makes these outfits are a pair of oversized sunnies (the trend at the moment) and a large slouchy tote. If you update these items each season, you can stay current and on trend while wearing the clothes that you already had. This is a very affordable and elegant way of updating your wardrobe and has the bonus effect of stopping you from wasting your money on the latest trend clothes that will only last a few months.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Top tips for losing weight

I thought I would share the following weight loss tips which are from the June issue of Madison magazine. They seem like great tips that anyone could incorporate into their lifestyle, even if they are following a specific weight loss program like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig etc.

  • Reduce your overall carbohydrate intake, particularly sugars and starches.
  • Increase your protein intake.
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fat.
  • Eat sufficient amounts of good fats everyday such as nuts, avocados and oils.
  • Follow a structured resistance training program at least once per week.
  • Perform cardiovascular exercise before breakfast at least three times per week.
  • Wait an hour to eat after you exercise to maximise fat burning (but no longer that one hour as your metabolism will decline).

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Tips for healthy grocery shopping

Grocery shopping can be fraught with danger for the chic mummy who is watching her weight. Aisles full of confectionery, checkouts laden with chips, and let's not even get started on trying to figure out which packaged foods are actually healthy! Here are some tips to help make your grocery shopping healthier for you and your family.

I know this is obvious, but make a list before you go, and stick to it!

  • Don't shop on an empty stomach. I try and have a small snack before I go in.

  • Spend most of you money on fresh food items - fruit and veg, meat, fish, dairy. These items tend to be around the outside of the store.

  • Start reading the ingredient and nutrition labels on packaged goods. If there are lots of ingredients that you don't recognise or lots of numbers, it is probably not a great item for your trolley.

Choose cheese labelled "low fat" rather than "reduced fat", as reduced fat cheese may not necessarily be low in fat.

"Low fat" foods are not always healthy, as the fat is often replaced with sugar.

Choose the leanest meat - it is often labelled "heart smart"

Tinned seafood is a great source of low fat protein that is high in omega-3's. It is also very reasonably priced.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bedtime

Bedtime

As you know, I’ve talked a fair bit about being chic when we mummies are out and about in the world, but what about when we retire for the evening? If you are anything like me, I really, really look forward to bedtime and I think it is just as important to make the effort to be chic when we go to bed, just like we make the effort during the day. After all, aren’t our husband’s just as deserving of our chicness as the outside world? How many of us are going to bed in ratty flannel pj’s (I know, I know, they are sooo comfy!), holey socks (but my feet are cold, you say) and dry scaly skin (who has time for moisturiser?)?

Well, it is time for a change. It is time to ditch the faded flannels for something more alluring. It is time to get rid of the holey socks, and switch them for some warm and cuddly ones (without holes!) if your feet are cold (putting your icy cold feet on your husband is probably less attractive than wooly socks) and it is definitely time to grab at least a few minutes for yourself with a nightly bedtime beauty ritual.

So let’s start with the alluring night wear:





This knit slip from Victoria's Secret is pretty, sexy, AND comfortable. The eyelet trim at the bust helps to emphasise the bust, while drawing attention away from the waist, hips and thighs.




I think there is nothing sexier than a fitted white tank paired with man style pj bottoms in a pretty print, or a shirt style pj top paired with just your knickers (Risky Business style). This set, also from Victoria' Secret, would be perfect. In winter, wear it as a set, but in warmer weather, you can split the items up for an ultra sexy look.



When it's really cold, and only flannel will do, then go for flannel, but make sure that the set is in good condition, fits well, and is an attractive pattern. I really love this set from Peter Alexander - its fresh, fun, and a little but sexy!


Once your attire is sorted out, it is time to develop a bedtime ritual. Take two minutes to cleanse and moisturise your face (I love Clarin's Water Comfort Onestep Cleanser - just wipe it on and wipe it off), and another thirty seconds to slather on a rich and fragrant body lotion.

My fave at the moment is Aesop's Rind Aromatique Body Balm, which smells like a Sicilian Olive Grove. Nightime is when you skin rejuvenates itself, so i also put on an eye cream, and if i can find time, some cuticle oil for my nails. Not only will a bedtime ritual mean you will smell and feel lovely in bed, but it will pay off during the day as well as you skin will be positively glowing!





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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Diet Trap

I love fruit juice in all its forms – freshly squeezed especially, but any type will do. On average, I probably drink about 2 glasses a day. But did you know that fruit juice can be a huge diet pitfall? According to Slimming and Health magazine, freshly squeezed OJ has about 138kj, 7.3g of sugar and 2g fibre per 200ml. The magazine tested 11 juices available here in Australia (but I am assuming the results would be comparable with juices in other countries), and they started at 202kj going right up to 418kj and have up to 25g of sugars. To put that into perspective, 200ml of Coca Cola has 22g of sugar.




Catherine Saxelby, a noted nutritionist and author, recommends in her book Nutrition for Life that we should have no more than 125ml of juice each day; instead, eat the whole piece of fruit so that you can get the benefits of all the fibre, vitamins and nutrients that they contain.




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Monday, June 2, 2008

Barley and quinoa mushroom pilaff


Here is a great recipe that I just tried that I received from the latest Weight Watchers e-newsletter. It is made with a grain called quinoa, which was used by the ancient South American Indians and it is very nutritious, being especially high in protein. If you are following Weight Watchers, or simply looking for some great low fat recipe ideas, I highly recommend signing up for the various Weight Watcher's newsletters. If you go to http://www.weightwatchers.com/, and then follow the links to the various international sites, you can then sign up for each countries' newsletter, as they are all different.


This recipe was quick and easy, and very tasty. One way of telling that the quinoa is cooked is making sure it is translucent with a white "c" shape ring in the centre.


Barley and quinoa mushroom pilaff

· 4 whole stock cube, (vegetable) dissolved in 3 3/4 cups (900ml) hot water
· 150 g raw pearl barley, rinsed
· 1 spray Gold 'n' Canola Canola oil spray
· 2 stick celery, trimmed, finely chopped
· 1 medium onion, (red) finely chopped
· 1 clove garlic, crushed
· 1 tsp lemon rind, finely grated
· 1/2 tsp cumin seed, (ground)
· 175 g mushroom, sliced
· 100 g quinoa
· 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
· 1 medium lemon, cut into wedges



  1. Bring 600ml stock to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Add barley and simmer for approximately 1 hour or until tender. Rinse.

  2. Spray a large non-stick frying pan with oil. Add celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until softened.

  3. Stir in lemon rind, cumin, mushrooms, thyme leaves, quinoa and remaining 300ml stock. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring or until quinoa is tender.

  4. Add cooked barley. Cook for a further 3 minutes or until hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into serving bowl. Sprinkle with thyme and serve with lemon wedges.

serves 2 - 6 points per serve






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Sunday, June 1, 2008

French beat childhood obesity

As childhood obesity reaches epidemic levels in many developed countries (especially Australia, the US and the UK), it is great to see that at least one country is making some progress in halting it. The following article is from a blog column by Charles Bremner at the Times: http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/charles_bremner/2008/05/a-glance-is-oft.html

A glance is often enough to tell the nationality of the groups of young tourists who throng the street outside our office on the Place de l'Opéra. You don't need to listen to the language or study the dress. The American kids are really wide. The Britons are next in excessive girth followed by Germans, Australians and Russians.

All right, that's an intolerant generalisation. Obesity is a global epidemic and Americans and Brits are just leading the way, we are told. The "thin" countries like France are fast catching up, thanks to junk food and the sedentary habits of their kids. I read in a US newspaper: "Child obesity is the new 'normal' of the 21st century. It will remain that way".
Well, perhaps not. This week, France reported that it has stopped the rise in overweight children over the past decade or so.

The news emerged from the 2008 European Congress on Obesity in Geneva. One study showed that there was no change in the weight of French seven to nine-year-olds between 2000 and 2007. In another survey the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA) found no significant change in random samples of three to 17-year-olds in 1998-99 and 2006-2007.

The French results have caused a stir because they are the first evidence that it is possible to stop the blight of obesity that is sweeping the affluent world -- including France. The experts are being cautious, but credit for the French success is being given to programmes that have been running for over a decade.

A national effort to change children's eating habits began in 1992 with something called EPODE, for Ensemble, prevenons l'obésité des enfants, or Together, let's prevent obesity in children. This set out to diagnose and treat children with weight problems. It also helped schools educate children in healthy eating.

Primary school kids have partaken since the early 1990s in an annual "taste week" and school cantines provide quality menus. Since 2005 processed food and drink vending machines have been removed from schools. The Government is now trying to persuade supermarkets to stop displaying high-calorie sweets and snacks at their check-out counters and food advertising is to be stopped on children's television programmes. Everyone in France now knows the official recommendation: eat five different types of fruit and vegetable every day.

The AFSSA agency says the results are encouraging, though French children still suffer from unacceptable fatness. About 14 percent are overweight and 3.5 percent class as obese. This is just above Sweden and the Netherlands, which have the lowest rates. In Britain, which has a severe problem, about one third of children are overweight or obese.

Obviously national culture plays a big role. Servings of all food are still much smaller in France than in the English-speaking countries. For all their fondness for video games and le Macdo, as MacDonald's is known, French youngsters still sit down to meals with their families.

Pascale Briand, Director-General of the food agency, told us that France has an advantage that is difficult to export. "The respect for the organisation of meals, their times, the notion of eating for pleasure, are all favourable factors in France," she told Marie Tourres, our Paris reporter.
We sought the opinion of Patrick Serog, a nutritionist, physician who co-wrote a best-seller called Savoir Manger -- eating right. "We have a cultural advantage over the Anglo-Saxon countries in particular. We eat as a convivial exercise, not just to nourish ourselves," he said. "That enables us to have a fixed food structure, with a first course, main course and dessert and a varied menu. The body regulates itself better."

After all the awareness campaigns, the message has finally got through. Eating five fruits and vegetables per day is impossible, but the ideal ends up penetrating and as a result people try to reach it. But nothing is won in the long term, says Serog. "Food habits change fast. It is easier for les Anglo-Saxons to export their soda than for France to export its food exception."

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