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Marathon Madness and an iPod Makeover

By Ali K. · December 12, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

There are so many things that go into running a marathon...from the shoes to the music, and I am obsessed with all of it. I have a month to go until my second marathon, and I can’t wait to do it already!  The feeling of accomplishment was indescribable last year. I said it was the fourth best day of my life, after getting married and having my kids.  

Finding the right shoe is paramount.  Fit and comfort are key, and can make or break your runs. I have narrow feet, and the Mizuno Wave Riders are perfect for me.  I am completely infatuated with my newest pair because they are the Anniversary edition, only available until January.  This color has never been made by Mizuno before, and I think they are the coolest. This is the pair that will take me all 26.2 miles.

The training runs are the hardest part of a marathon, so I always take the time to prepare myself.  Of course I drink as much water as I can to hydrate my insides, but I always make sure to prep my skin too.  Winter runs in Texas are heavenly. To actually not sweat before the run is so nice, but winter temps can dry out my skin.  I always apply a good facial moisturizer, lip balm with SPF, and cuticle cream.  This is a perfect time to let it all soak in.  I am big on sunscreen, and I love using sunscreen powder on my runs because it doesn’t make my face sweat, and it works right away.  I can swipe it on as I am heading out the door and be immediately protected.

Declor Harmonie Calm Creme
Sugar Lip Treatment with SPF 15
Colore Science Sunforgettable SPF 30 powder sunscreen
Cuccio Cuticle Conditioning Butter Stick

I don’t know if it was my discovery and infatuation with Madonna in the 80’s, but I am often attracted to neon.  I am not big on it for everyday wear, but it adds such a cool element to my running clothes.  My iPod armband is neon green so I always have a bit on me.  For long runs I adore my Nike neon orange tank because it has pockets for my mint chocolate GU (yummy!) and can hold all four that I need for the marathon.

But down to the nitty gritty of marathon prep...the MUSIC.  I cannot get through my runs without songs that motivate me.  I run so much, that finding new ones and not getting sick of them can be a challenge, but I have put together a list of all my current favorites.  Nicki Minaj sings so many of these songs that I sometimes feel like she is my training partner!

Super Bass by Nicki Minaj
Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5
I Won’t Back Down by Blake Shelton and Dia Frampton (didn’t you watch The Voice?)
The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga
(It) Feels So Good by Steven Tyler
It Girl by Jason Derulo
You Make Me Feel... by Cobra Starship
Without You by David Guetta and Usher
Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heros and Adam Levine
We Found Love by Rihanna
Where Them Girls At by David Guetta, Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj
Turn Me On by David Guetta and Nicki Minaj
2012 by Jay Sean and Nicki Minaj (perfect for this time of year!)
Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw
Brighter Than the Sun by Colbie Caillat (totally puts a spring in your step)
Domino by Jessie J (this makes me fun faster!)
Best Thing I Never Had by Beyonce
Honey Bee by Blake Shelton (I live in Texas now, so I need a little Country)
Oh Darling by Plug in Stereo and Cady Groves (slow, but my husband always sings it to me in the car and I love it!)
Fly by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna
A Thousand Years by Christina Perri (sometimes I can run to something slow if it is this beautiful)
Good Feeling by Flo Rida
You Da One by Rihanna

Now that I have all the necessities taken care of, I can focus on the best part of this experience.  I will be running all 26.2 miles with my very best friend in the world, my twin sister, Stephanie.  I cannot wait to cross the finish line together!

My new and improved medicine cabinet...and then some!

By Ali K. · October 28, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

As you already know about me, I relish in being organized.  For the past few months my medicine cabinet has been getting on my nerves, big time.  As a product lover, it was getting a tad crowded, and whenever I grabbed an item, something else came tumbling down with it.  To tackle this problem I headed to one of my favorite places, The Container Store, and found medicine cabinet organizers.  Who knew? Now I am completely convinced you can find anything in that place!

These plastic trays are measured to be a perfect fit for a standard medicine cabinet, and minimize clutter.  Making good use of these trays will definitely ensure that nothing falls out of your cabinet when moving products around, and all of your essentials will be neat and tidy.  After a little pare down, and relegating products used less frequently to a drawer, I am happy every time I open my medicine cabinet and see all of my products lined up so nicely.

Since I am on the topic of products, I have found two recently that I am absolutely obsessed with.  The first is Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush. I was very into cream blush for the summer, but was looking to go back to powder for the fall.  This product is all natural, and really does last all day.  It is nutrient rich, and comes in a variety of colors for a perfect match for any skin tone and desired look.  Amazonian clay is said to minimize oil, have great staying power, and deliver nourishment to the skin so that it doesn’t dry out.  In addition, this product is an Allure Best of Beauty winner.  I can see why!

You know a product is good when even your husband comments on it.  This actually happened to me when I started using Ojon Damage Reverse Instant Restorative Hair Serum.  I had read about this product in various magazines and was excited to try it.  This serum boasts the ability to create shine, fight frizz, and heal split ends all while imparting a noticeable shine in a weightless form.  One or two drops of this multi-tasker is all you need.

The first day I used it, my husband told me how great my hair looked, without being prompted in any way!  I, too, noticed that it was extremely shiny and soft.  You can use the product wet or dry, but I prefer to dry my hair and then put a drop or two on as a finishing touch.  I tried it both ways, and saw more of a result on dry hair.


My Favorite Sports Bra

By Ali K. · October 4, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

There are plenty of things that are fun to spend money on...a nice bag, a great meal, even a fabulous haircut...but not sports bras.  Let’s face it, we all need them, and we need them to do their job well, but there is no thrill in buying them.  

I have recently discovered great sports bras sold at Target that are about half the price of many out there.  They range from $16.99 to $18.99 which compared to the $35-50 many of them are sold for is a deal.  The quality is great, so even though you are saving money you are not getting a second rate product at all.  I am in Target at least twice a week, so the convenience factor is fantastic too.

The C9 Seamless Sports Bra by Champions is a great product for many reasons.  It is comfortable, seamless, and comes in lots of fun colors, as well as the old standbys black, white and grey.  I do however enjoy a small, unexpected pop of color peeking out of my workout clothes, especially a tiny bit of neon.  I am excited to incorporate the recently introduced fall color palate in various shades of pinks and purples into my workout wardrobe.

Made of 95% nylon and 5% spandex, these bras are moisture wicking, have Duo Dry technology, and offer the perfect combination of stretch and comfort.  There are many days I end up in my workout clothes all day, and I am perfectly happy in this bra till I finally get a shower around 8 p.m when the kids are in bed.  Kind of gross, but definitely reality!

Next time you are in Target check them out.  Buy one and run, spin, kickbox, lift, or power walk in comfort and style.  You will even have enough change from your $20 for a creamy peanut butter Think Thin bar...but that is another post.


Organize away, and clutter be gone!

By Ali K. · September 21, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

I always say that I hope my kids are really smart because they sucked so many of my brain cells from me in utero.  I am at the point that I can’t remember anything without emailing myself multiple times a day, or writing myself a note.  I looked at my office one day, and wondered why I wasn’t investing in the company that makes sticky notes.  

At the end of each day I collected all the notes I had written to myself to throw away.  Not only did I realize that all the paper was a giant waste, but there had to be a way to organize all the memos and maintain some semblance of organization.  I found the solution to this dilemma when my sister gave me the 3-Way Pad.

This is a single pad, separated into three sections that are each perforated so the pages can be turned individually as you use them.  There are sections for tasks, errands and contacts, and a place to check off the items once completed.  Like anyone that craves organization, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when making that beloved check mark, no matter how insignificant the task.  

This pad was near to impossible to find, which is why I haven’t written about it sooner.  I finally found it on the website www.greenearthstores.com.  This is a fabulous addition to your office or kitchen counter, or even a perfect hostess gift.  If you are like me, you may do some of your best thinking when blowdrying your hair, so one for the bathroom may be worth it for you too! At least now I can walk into my office and feel a sense of calm.  I definitely do not miss the rainbow of flouresent paper covering my desk, and you won't either.

Happy list making!


By Ali K. · September 1, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

I have not had one person walk through my front door without asking me what the amazing smell in my living room is since I got the Dr. Vranjes Room Diffuser.  I am obsessed with it because my house smells amazing!

Mark and I were recently on a trip, and the hallway in our hotel smelled ridiculously good.  Every time I walked to our room I told Mark that I wish our house smelled exactly like that hallway.  Finally, on our last day we asked the concierge what the smell was and where we could buy it.  One water taxi and two stops for directions later, we stumbled upon the store that sold the diffusers.  

We bought the Melograno scent, which is the same one the hotel had.  Of course I made Mark pack it in his suitcase just in case the glass broke....selfish of me, but I had all my favorite clothes with me on the trip.  

As soon as I got home I opened the bottle, inserted the sticks and breathed in the heavenly scent.  It is nice having people comment on how wonderful your house smells, but for me, every time I walk near that room I am reminded of the wonderful memories from our trip.

After schlepping the bottle home from Italy, I have found numerous places online to purchase the diffusers, many with no shipping, which is great because the bottles are heavy.

I am sure all of the scents are great, but I can personally guarantee Melograno.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

It ain't over till it's over...there's still time to try these great summer recipes!

By Ali K. · August 17, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Summer is long in Texas, roughly lasting untill about October or so.  There is still plenty of time to enjoy my summer menu obsessions, cold Avacado and Cucumber Soup and “Aspen” Kale Salad.

The recipe for this soup was sent to me by my friend in California.  I am seriously addicted to it because not only is it delicious and healthy, but it takes five minutes to prepare.

Cucumber and Avocado Soup
2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded
2 large avocados, cut into chunks
7 oz greek yogurt
juice of two limes
4 mint leaves
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups cold water

Put all ingredients into a cuisinart and puree until totally smooth. Chill and enjoy.  I usually garnish with a mint sprig before serving if guests are over.

We had a fabulous, adventure packed week in Aspen with the boys this summer.  Our agenda included hiking, fishing and rafting as well as eating delicious meals all week long.  CP Burger was attached to the mini-golf course, so needless to say, we frequented the locale for great burgers and shakes.  Everyone talks about the kale salad they serve, so I was excited to try it.  It was incredible, and I ate it three times during our week there.  I have made it so many times since I returned home, that my kids are always asking me if I am eating the “Aspen salad.”  This salad is easy to make and is definitely nice enough for guests.  In fact, I keep inviting people over for lunch and serving these two dishes together!

This salad that I have re-created is more done “to taste” without exact measurements.  Don’t be shy!

“Aspen Salad”
Chop one head of raw kale as finely as you can.  I prefer the lacinto kale, but either variety will be fine.  The restaurant in Aspen uses the curly kale.
Add pine nuts, dried currants, and grated parmesan cheese.  As I said don’t be shy, the more you put in the yummier it will be!  I would estimate at least a 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the pine nuts and currants, and 1/4 to 1/3 cup parm.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon, drizzle with good olive oil, and sprinkle some salt.  Toss and taste test.  The best part is that you can’t go wrong.  I literally just throw it all together and devour it!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do.

Make It Last!

By Ali K. · August 8, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

I always look and feel better with a little lipstick and gloss.  Who doesn’t, right?  I have been searching for a long wearing formula that I liked, but the shades were always a little too dark for me.  It is difficult to find a long-wear lipstick in a light pinky-nude, but I finally have and I am obsessed with it!

MAC Pro Longwear Lipcolour in Unchanging is exactly what I was looking for.  Once you put it on and it sets, it is on for the day but never gets cakey or dry feeling.  You can reapply the attached gloss throughout the day, but I do like the way it looks plain as well.  There is an array of colors if you are more daring than I, but this is the lightest one.  I also like that you can buy another gloss specially formulated to work with the longwear formula septerately if you run out of it, without having to purchase a whole new lipstick set.

Give it a try, and make it last!

Happy Reading! My favorite sequels and trilogies

By Ali K. · August 1, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

There is no better feeling as an avid reader than finishing a book you love and getting to devour another one in the series.  I hope you enjoy these suggestions and much as I did.

My most recent read was the sequel to Shanghai Girls, entitled Dreams of Joy.  It was fabulous, and picked up right where Shanghai Girls left off.  I highly recommend it.

My hands-down favorite trilogy is by Penny Vincenzi.  I spent six hours a day reading it one summer during my teaching years, and actually was slightly depressed when it was over.  The first book is No Angel, and introduces you to the Lytton Family in 1920s London, and takes you through WWI.  Something Dangerous takes you through WWII, and Into Temptation continues the family saga.  This trilogy may not have won a Pulitzer, but it is darn good reading!  Everyone I have recommended it to loved it.

I do relish in a good dose of historical fiction, and for this I truly loved the trilogy by Sandra Gulland that chronicles the life of Josephine Bonaparte.  The books are entitled The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, and The Last Great Dance on Earth.

Memoir is another favorite genre of mine.  I was amazed and inspired by the writing capability of Harry Bernstein in his late 90's when he chronicled his life in Invisable Wall, The Dream, and The Golden Willow.

Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is the type of memoir that keeps you up till all hours of the night.  I simply could not grasp that this was someone's reality, making it impossible to put down.  Half Broke Horses, though enjoyable, did not have the same all encompassing quality, however did offer good background into the family's history.  Dive whole-heartily into Glass Castle, even if you decide not to read Half Broke Horses.

My reading list is constantly growing.  I have not read the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but it is already downloaded on my Kindle, as well as The History of Witches by Deborah Harkness which also came highly recommended.  The other two books in that trilogy have not yet been released, but it is exciting to have something to look forward to!

Happy Reading!

Saturday Night Fever

By Ali K. · July 24, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

I have always envied the girls that stroll into a restaurant on Saturday night with artfully tousled waves.  Being somewhat "curling iron challenged" I accepted that would never be me...but not anymore.

On a recent girls' trip to Vegas, my friend with hair that you lust after, told me that she found an amazing curling iron that was really easy to use, and even I could do it.  I assured her that as many fresh rasberries were crushed into my mojito was the number of times I had tried and failed at curling my hair.  That night before dinner she did my hair and it looked great. I was obsessed with the body and flirty bounce in my hair that night, so I ordered the same iron the minute I landed in Houston.

In the past I had a really hard time getting all my ends in the curling iron, creating crimps and failed attempts.  What is so genius about the Bio Ionic iTools Style Winder Rotating Curling Iron is the rotating barrel.  Basically, you clamp your hair and then rotate the barrel until all your ends are in, and then you wind.  It heats up to 400 degrees in seconds, and the barrel is infused with minerals so your hair doesn't dry out.  I was able to create great waves the first try, and super fast.

Armed with this curling iron and a little hairspray my Saturday nights just got a little sassier!

Ciao Italy and Hello Peter!

By Ali K. · June 30, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Spending ten days in Italy was fabulous in countless ways...walking the streets of Florence, cooling off in the Mediterranean, and of course EATING!

I have never gone to bed with a stomach ache from the sheer amount of food that I consumed at a meal, but I simply could not help myself.  Homemade pasta, crispy pizza, and tomatoes caprese at every meal was just too tempting.  

When I returned stateside I realized that if I continued to eat this way I would never fit into the new wardrobe that I purchased for the trip, but my taste buds had definitely become accustomed to delicious food at every meal.  The pasta here could never touch the pasta of my Italian dreams, but we have great tomatoes, especially in the summer.  I grew up on “Jersey tomatoes” and have always loved them.  

Mozzarella as a companion is not on the diet plan, but bring on the Peter Luger’s Steak House Old Fashioned Sauce. I am obsessed with it!  The steakhouse from NYC sells their delicious sweet and tangy sauce that is the perfect pairing for tomatoes.  A tad of horseradish adds a tiny kick, but is not spicy at all.  I eat tomatoes slathered with Peter Luger’s as an afternoon snack almost daily.  It is also the perfect side dish or salad alternative for a light summer meal.

In Houston it is found in the refrigerated section at Central Market, but Peter Luger’s also ships, so don’t miss out!!