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What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we've got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #25: Thank your host with style.
"Slate and Chalk sounds like something from a Dickens novel, but you can serve cheese on the slate and write the name right next to it."
—Jayma Mays, actress
"My most memorable hostess gift was a trampoline... though I promptly flew off it and broke my arm. That was unforgettable!"
—Cynthia Rowley, fashion designer
Monday is too stressful. Wednesday is already hump day. But Tuesday is "you" day: a day when you have the energy to do—or plan—something fresh and unexpected that might just turn your whole week around.
Stop everything and honor one of the most important holidays of the year today: International Chocolate Day. How to create a party your friends will never forget by throwing a wine and chocolate tasting.
Some people were taken aback by Mad Men siren Christina Hendrick's plunging gown at the New York premiere of I Don't Know How She Does It (also starring Sarah Jessica Parker), but we loved it. How to look your best in evening wear, especially when you're well endowed.
Be aware this September, National Ovarian Cancer Month. How to take a fast, simple quiz prepared by Dr. Oz that can help you figure out if you're displaying any early symptoms of the disease—and, if need be, get crucial help.
Married? Make sure your husband knows—and remembers—that this Saturday is Wife Appreciation Day. How to make yourself heard, even by busy spouses. Or how to make a bullhorn out of a milk container in order to get your message across about your love of breakfast in bed.
Like all of us, I've had a couple of rough times in my life—wrong job, wrong city, wrong direction, right guy but...whoops...he's not interested. Unfortunately, I also have a smile addiction. All through these less-than-happy periods, I'd slap on my cheerful face at work and at home. When people asked, I'd said, "Everything's fine. Thanks!" Or "just plugging along!"
The problem with this coping strategy is your day-to-day inner unhappiness quickly becomes the new emotional standard. You wake up unhappy every day but don't realize that you're unhappy because you're so used to it. One time, after listening to me talk on the phone for a while, my friend Elisabeth said, "Gee, you're really having a terrible time." A gong went off in my head. I was having a terrible time. What she had done was connect the dots for me, and the minute she did, I felt a whooshing—almost euphoric—sense of relief.
Now there's a site that will do your emotional charting for you. Moodpanda.com creates time graphs and charts from the "mood" data you insert daily. It may sound a little hokey, but looking at how you're feeling over the long term can be really interesting—and often different than short term. (For instance, this month, I'd probably say I'm "just doing okay," but actually, when you add up emotional scores from all 30 of my days, the consensus is that, surprise, I'm pretty happy!)
The added bonus? The little bits of mood analysis, such as the fact that weekends are universal happiest days of the week, while Wednesday—for some as yet still unknown reason—is the saddest. My advice is to buck the trend and, that day, buy yourself a lunch that ends in mood-lifting chocolate.
Key lime with graham crackers and raspberry swirl. Cinnamon-cotton candy with gummy bears. Sea-salt caramel and butter brickle. eCreamery makes the question "vanilla or chocolate?" seem like child's play. The Omaha ice cream shop, started by friends Abby Jordan and Becky App, churns out a dozen-plus fresh flavors daily. But it's their web site, where you can build your own custom flavors, that got our gelato-lovin' heart pumping.
How it works: Choose your base—dairy-free sorbetto, rich gelato or classic ice cream—and then pick one or two of the more than 40 flavors to infuse into the base mix. (Ice cream experts on-site tweak the ratio, to make sure subtle lavender still sings through a heavier chocolate.) Options range from adventurous (chipotle, stout) and nostalgic (birthday cake, butterscotch), to straightforward stunners like blueberry and cardamom. Next comes the fun part: agonizing over the mix-ins (walnut brownies, cherry swirls, candied ginger, malted milk balls...the list goes on and on). Four hand-packed pints are shipped, bearing your label. May we suggest: "Hands off!"
Our best creation: Coffee and sweet cream gelato with a luscious caramel swirl and crunchy bits of chocolate espresso chips.
Signature Trail Snacks
No more picking through a store-bought bag of trail mix and leaving the lonely walnuts behind? Sweet! Mother-and-son team (and health nuts) Ava Bise and Anthony Flynn started YouBar after years of making protein bars at home. This design-it-yourself business has since expanded from bars to protein shakes, cereal, and—our favorite—trail mixes.
How it works: Of the 40-odd ingredients offered—chia seeds, black licorice, wasabi peas, sundried tomatoes, candied ginger, organic dried fruits—you can blend up to 21. Nutritional information appears on-screen as you make additions, many of which are organic. Trail mix ships in individual snack packs.
Our best creation: A salty-sweet-crunchy-chewy symphony of pistachios, peanuts, organic soynuts, dried cherries, organic flaxseeds, sesame sticks, and dark-chocolate covered raisins.
No matter what happens in your day to day, mindfulness matters. Here's a few new reasons why to get present about your present.
Living to Live, Not Eat
Eating with your non-dominant hand (say, lefties eating popcorn with their right hand hand or righties eating with their left) may cause you to consume less food, The LA Times reported last week, because it disrupts your habits and causes you to be more aware of what you're consuming.
The Fear Factor
This month researchers at the University of Cambridge found that putting 14-year-old and 15-year-old boys on a meditation regime increased their well being—mostly dramatically in those "who suffered from higher levels of anxiety." Totally unscientifically speaking, if a bunch of hormone-fueled teenage boys can get themselves to sit down, focus, and be still and calm....we all can. (Via Science.com)
The Exercise To Try
Breathe out your dark cloud. O magazine's Martha Beck shows us how to be mindful in five easy focusing steps.
Extend your summer tan (which you still managed to get even though we know you applied your sunscreen religiously) with this heart-stamped, shimmery bronzer. Swirl the different tones together with the brush that comes conveniently stored beneath the powder, and sweep it under your cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose and across your forehead for a streak-free, sun-kissed look. For a rosier effect, dab your the bristles into the bright pink and pop this color on the apples of your cheeks. Bonus: this bronzer is scented with violet floral notes to invigorate your senses and lift your spirits (even on a manic Monday).
Physicians Formula Happy Booster Glow and Mood Boosting Bronzer, $14.
Soothe dry skin for a cause
Get 30 wearable colors for under $30
Every Monday, we're rounding up the things, small and big, that made us stop and think. Today, we're inspired by words of wisdom from a Disney animator, a sympathetic mystery shopper and Rihanna...
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we've got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #24: Bargain shop in a whole new way.
Quit clipping coupons! Thanks to the popularity of sites like Groupon, flash sales (limited edition deals) are oh so of-the-moment. Four sites to suit any shopping style:
At MYHABIT, the new designer sale site from Amazon, shopaholics enjoy up to 60 percent off—and free shipping—from high-end and boutique brands like Alberta Ferretti and Dogeared jewelry.
Get an Android smartphone, iPod nano, or LCD monitor on the cheap with the daily deals at CowBoom, a Best Buy offshoot that offers new, used, and refurbished electronics.
Daily Gourmet dishes discounts on high-quality eats from around the world (think: cask-aged premium wine vinegar, small-batch gluten-free granola, and hand-crafted coffees).
LivingSocial secures savings of 50 percent or more on local products and getaways. Convince three of your friends to purchase the offer as well and you get the deal for free.