Summer Fashion Favorites

Summer is in full mode and if you live in a southern state like I do, you are now dealing with 85 degrees at 9am! Being from the Caribbean, it is naturally my favorite season and over the years, I’ve gotten the list of summer must have fashion items down to a science! While we all know that in the summer, the main idea is to have a closet that is “heat ready”, some of the items on the list below might surprise some of you!
– Sunglasses: especially if you are constantly outdoors, you will soon realize that a pair of sunglasses will no longer serve as a fashion statement but rather is a necessity. They will help shield your eyes from the bright rays of the sun and facilitate vision when walking towards it.
– SPF lotion: no, it’s not only for beach days! If you are going to be outdoors, you definitely will want to protect your skin. One should always be using SPF lotion throughout the year but in the summer time, we tend to be outdoors a little more as we travel and vacation, so be sure to put on the extra protection.
– Hair tie: if your hair reaches your neck, then you definitely will need a hair tie. You can quickly remove the hair from your face, neck and back when the heat starts to really strike midday. And if you are like me and your hair is sensitive to humidity, then you already know that leaving your house without a hair tie (year round lol) is a no no. I try to keep one in every purse along with some hair pins but if you find this to be too tedious, try keeping a couple in your glove compartment in your car or in a drawer at your desk in the office for easy access.
– Shorts: probably the biggest indicator for the warm months (if you live outside of Florida), shorts are a definite must for the summer. My suggestion to facilitate your summer wardrobe is to have the following three colors: neutral, denim, dark and you will be all set! To make sure that you have even more of a variety in your wardrobe options, be sure to select three different styles and length.
– Tank tops: can’t have shorts without the summer tanks! Lighter colors while they may be easier to get soiled, they help keep your temperature cooler. They are probably the easiest investment for the season (aside from flip flops) as there will be constant deals throughout the summer at retailers such as Old Navy, Target, Forever XXI to name a few.
– Comfortable flats: we tend to walk a lot more in the summer as most of us tend to go on vacation and travel. A pair of comfortable flats will come in handy. Be sure to select a neutral color so that you might match them with most of your wardrobe.
Overall, the idea is to be sure that you are comfortable as summer usually equals vacation for most of us. You want to be adequately prepared to face the heat and comfortable to explore any new destinations that you might decide to discover this summer!
Enjoy!

Reese

Overcoming a Negative Work Environment

With the various shifts happening in the professional world throughout major companies, more and more adults are facing a lot of tension in the workplace which has been increasing the level of stress amongst working adults. From fear of losing employment to dealing with hostile coworkers to working for a supervisor who does not appreciate you, today’s adults have a lot more challenges in the workplace and at times may feel like the negativity of the environment might get the best of them. Having been in a similar situation recently, I know that such an experience can not only add a lot of stress to your life but will also affect the following: sleep, appetite, and self-esteem!
In my excruciating experience, I went through many effects of stress that many would not think were possible. You are overcome by a sense of fear that truly is unsettling and simply will literally keep you up at night and paralyze you to the point that you could spend all day focusing on these factors. Your relationship with food will fluctuate from binge eating to losing all appetite and having to remind yourself that food is essential to living. Finally, along with these two effects, you will lose interest in doing most of the mundane activities in your daily life such as household chores and eventually you may end up in a depression and questioning your purpose in life.
In the middle of all of these emotions, as the saying goes – “life goes on…”, and as much as you are aware of that fact, it’s almost impossible for you to shake the feeling as walking into work every day become a constant reminder and an internal battle to try to motivate yourself to stay active and positive. It is hard to achieve amidst all the stress but it is very important that you keep your morale up and avoid falling deeper into depression. While I’m not an expert in any way, the following helped me overcome this hard time in my professional life:
– Keep yourself entertained: throughout the day, I always kept my earbuds on (well one because you still want to be able to hear your phone or colleagues when you’re being addressed) and had some kind of entertainment going on. I made music video playlists on YouTube, had various comedy stations and music genre stations on Pandora which I’d alternate depending on the one that best suited my mood for the day.
– Attract positivity: surround yourself with positive people, find some time to reflect and find peace. If you are religious, pray like you have never before! If not, find the most amount of activities that put a smile on your face and do them! The key is to keep yourself positively entertain to chase away the feelings of depression.
– Keep busy: go to the movies, spend some time with friends and family to uplift your mood. If you are an avid reader, take a trip to your nearest bookstore and purchase a couple of good books. If you’re into cooking, painting, crafts: find some time to dedicate to that passion.
– Market yourself: if you haven’t done so, revamp your resume and build your professional brand on the appropriate social media professional platforms such as LinkedIn. Be sure to be grammatically correct and use proper punctuations in your resume and letters of interest and send them out to positions you may be interested in and also to head hunters. You’ll never know what could have been unless you try!
– Rediscover yourself: search for that fire that you have continually repressed due to obligations or reality and explore it! Whether it’s a longtime dream to learn to sew or you’ve always wanted to start your own fitness program, just focus on that dream of yours and work as hard as you’ve ever worked to turn it into reality!
Overall, the goal is for you to keep yourself busy and surrounded with as much positivity through your professional ordeal. In the end, it will help you come out as the victor no matter what the final outcome in your workplace. You will learn so much about your strength and about yourself. Being positive will help you serve as your best cheerleader when it seems like no one is appreciating your intellectual value and will help you rediscover this person that slowly was starting to wither due to the oppression you’ve been subject to in your workplace.
Keep a positive spirit, and as they say “this too shall pass…”, just be sure to hold on tight and never let anything or anyone take your smile away from you.
Reese

Easy Tuna Salad

Are you having a hectic week but are looking for a healthy and quick food option that will also keep you full? Tuna not only is a healthy source of protein but it also contains high levels of B vitamins and omega-3. In addition to being quick, filling, and healthy, tuna is a very versatile ingredient and can be mixed with a wide variety of ingredients and help complete any meal. I’m sharing below my favorite tuna salad recipe. It’s easy to make, does not require heat and is ready to eat in less than 15 minutes!

Ingredients:
– 1 can of your favorite tuna
– 1 Tablespoon of Greek yogurt
– 1 ½ Tablespoon of relish
– Diced onions
– Mustard
– Hot sauce
– Seasoning salt
– Garlic powder
– Ground pepper (black or white)

Open the can of tuna, drain the liquid and pour into a bowl. Add your seasoning salt, garlic powder, ground pepper, mustard and hot sauce. Add your diced onions (you may grate the onion if you rather only have the flavor and not the crunch and bite of the raw onion. Add the relish and the Greek yogurt in last place. You may add more of any of the ingredients to taste and finally refrigerate for best taste.

My favorite pairings with this salad are toast or crackers. For an appetizer for your summer party, simply spread a small dollop of the tuna salad onto your favorite crackers and decorate with either slices of green olives, sprig of dill or curly parsley. Your guests are sure to enjoy this delicious treat!

For some further readings on the benefits of tuna, you may enjoy the following links:
http://www.symptomfind.com/nutrition-supplements/health-benefits-of-tuna/
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-tuna-5596.html

I hope this quick recipe will help you find a new way to enjoy tuna. Please remember that while it is one of the healthiest foods, high consumption of tuna can be harmful and always speak to your doctor about any changes you may consider making in your diet.

Enjoy!

Reese

Healthy Quinoa Salad

Many times when we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, we go and purchase a lot of the alternative foods that are making all the waves in healthy magazines and cooking shows. However once purchased, we are not quite sure on how to cook them or what to pair them with. One of my favorite alternatives to rice is quinoa and I’ll admit that it took a lot of research before I realized how to cook this ingredient. Below I’m sharing one of my favorite ways to quickly make a tasty meal out of quinoa:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of red or white quinoa (for white quinoa- be sure to wash it under water before cooking. This will avoid the bloating feeling you may usually get from consuming white quinoa)
  • 2 cups of water
  • Diced red onions to taste
  • Diced tomato to taste
  • ½ can of whole kernel corn
  • Parsley or Cilantro to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 table spoon of olive oil
  • Cumin to taste
  • Seasoning salt to taste
  • Juice of half of a lime

In a pot, bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Rinse the quinoa using a fine strainer to prevent the quinoa going into the drain. Once the water gets to a boil, add the quinoa and when the quinoa starts to absorb the water, reduce the fire to low and cover the pot for approximately 15 minutes. Once the time elapses, fluff the quinoa and taste for consistency. If it is no longer crunchy, remove from heat and drain the excess water and pour into a bowl. Flash rinse in some water to cool the quinoa or simply let it rest until it cools. Mix in the red onions, tomato, chopped parsley or cilantro. Add the mixed vinegar and olive oil and the lime juice and the cumin and seasoning salt to taste. Refrigerate until cool or until ready to consume. This dish goes well with seafood or chicken breast and is perfect for a quick dinner after a long day of work or lunch on a weekend day.

Check out a list of 5 common mistakes when consuming quinoa for some more tips on this healthy rice alternative: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/5-most-common-mistakes-when-cooking-quinoa

Stay healthy!

Reese

Quick and Healthy Burger Meal

As many of us are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, we have had to make many cuts in our eating habits and consequently now start to salivate at the sight of a lot of fast foods such as a good burger, French fries, lasagna, cakes etc. At the beginning of the year, a group of my closest girls (including my sister and cousins) and I decided that we would adopt a new eating habit for the New Year. I’m happy to say that six months in, we are still going strong! What has made us successful thus far is 1) the fact that we have a group chat for motivation and sharing ideas and 2) we have continually been sharing alternatives to popular foods that are usually rich in carbs and sugar. Today, I’m sharing my alternative to the typical burger and fries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey ( I like to get the one from the meat department at Whole Foods)
  • Seasoning salt
  • Black pepper
  • Yellow mustard
  • Homemade Marinade (for recipe, see my DIY article here: http://wp.me/p5DKT0-1G)
  • Egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Red pepper flakes or Cayenne Pepper or any other hot sauce

Using a large bowl, pour a couple of tablespoons of the homemade marinade on the defrosted ground turkey. Add in the seasoning salt, the Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of mustard, and black pepper and pepper flakes (or substitute) to taste. Add the egg as a binding agent to ensure that your burger will not crumble. Form 4 oz patties and fry in a hot pan coated with a tablespoon of olive oil.

As an alternative to a burger bun, I use a naan flatbread and as a cheese option, I use smoked provolone (my weakness) and substitute the traditional French fries for baked sweet potato fries. To create a steakhouse burger option, I added sautéed Portobello mushrooms with red onions and some mixed greens. Instead of the traditional condiments, I made a glaze with a habanero gold and apricot jam (purchased at the local farmer’s market), some honey and a tad of yellow mustard.

The first time I made this burger, it was a hit with my friends! This recipe is not a definite low calorie one however, the ingredients have higher value in the calories such as higher protein, less fat etc. (The picture attached to this blog is an actual picture of my meal)

Overall, when adopting a healthier diet, the key is to increase the amount of your meals are homemade as it provides you with the opportunity of controlling exactly what goes into your food. Have fun with learning new recipes and Pinterest is your best friend! You may also consider the following websites: allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com, and myfitnesspal.com.

Enjoy!

Reese

Sticking to your diet!

Summer is fast approaching and we are all planning on heading on vacation and for most of us, our destination will most likely include a pool or a beach and this means a bikini ready body! So in order to prepare for our beach or pool days, many of us have started watching our weight or heading back to the gym. While the intention is always there, for many of us, the motivation dies quickly after about a week. Since I’ve also been in this situation many times, I’m going to share with you four tips that really helped me tick to the plan. Whether you are choosing to diet or simply make regular trips to gym, these tips will apply:
– Have a piece of clothing as motivation. Is there one particular outfit that used to be your go to for a boost of confidence? Maybe lately, it’s not fitting quite the same? Then put that dress on display in your closet and make it your goal to get back into that outfit!
– Get a work out partner/coach that will motivate you or a diet buddy. Sometimes the intention to go to the gym is there, however, after a long day of work, you simply want to leisure walk on the treadmill to fulfill the “working out” requirement. However, we all know that leisure walking on the treadmill while it will still help your heart, will not get you any closer to shedding the pounds! Find a workout partner who is just as serious about losing weight or getting in shape and be each other’s motivator. You must establish trust between the two of you because there are days that there will be some yelling involved and you will need to remember that it is out of love lol. If you decide to go on a diet, find someone to do it with you and be each other’s motivator, share recipes or have meals together to keep each other on the right path.
– Find alternative recipes. Whether you are simply working out or have chosen to maintain a different diet as well, alternative recipes to mainstream foods rich in carbs and fat will be beneficial. Today there are so many alternative recipes that are so tasty, you will never want to go to the less healthy version! (Look for my alternative to the regular burger in the Beauty & Health section http://wp.me/p5DKT0-2B).
– Set a goal date. Whether it is the beginning of summer, maybe your birthday, or better yet an event to attend, set your goal date and keep working towards your goal and do your very best to achieve it! Keep the calendar handy and you will feel the pressure (and motivation) build as the date approaches.
At the beginning of the year, I had set a goal to get my stomach as flat as possible for a wedding on Memorial Day weekend. I purchased a dress that I know would require the type of stomach that I wanted to achieve (as the material was spandex), and made sure that my trainer knew my goal. With her help, I cut out many of my favorite carbs or found better alternatives, did boot camp style workouts three times a week and for the last month I also went walking for 45 minutes on my off days. While I did not gain a six pack yet, I was happy that I wore my dress and no Spanx were required!!! Furthermore, there is a feeling that you get once you start seeing results that just makes you even more motivated to continue with your workouts or your diet. I hope that my suggestions will help you as well and remember that the most important goal is to feel good in your body and to be healthy!
Have fun!
Reese

Dear High School Graduate

As the school year is coming to an end, many of us will be attending graduation ceremonies. This is one of my favorite times of the year as I love to watch students get recognized for their hard work. College was a great time in my life and while I did not have the traditional college life, I wouldn’t trade that experience for another as I believe it helped shape me into the adult that I am today. While graduates are usually told to expect become more responsible, learn independence, how to do laundry etc. There are some advice that I wish graduates would hear more often. Here are some of the advice I wished someone had told me (I discovered some of those on my own and fortunately took advantage):
– Select a major that you are passionate about – the worst thing that you can do is pursue a degree in a certain field because it is lucrative. While you may complete it (some students don’t and end up switching majors two to three years into the program), chances are you will become miserable once you enter the workforce. Every career has some requirements that are less desirable, however, if you are if you are passionate about your career, you will enjoy even the downfalls.
– Take advantage of all of the interest clubs and organizations – especially while in your first two years, it is the easiest time to participate in all types of organizations while still taking your general education courses. Clubs and organizations help you explore different careers and help you decide which path you want to take (if you are unsure) but they also provide you with further exposure in that field and hence increase your chances of obtaining internships and scholarships.
– It’s okay to attend a two year college first – choosing to attend a two year college after high school is the ideal choice, unless you have secured a full ride scholarship to a four year institution. Two year colleges not only facilitate the transition from high school into college, they eliminate having to sit in an auditorium where you are nothing but a number to the professor. Furthermore, they share plenty of the clubs and organizations present in a four year university and many of the times they also share faculty with nearby four year institutions. However, the best advantage of two year colleges is that they are less expensive! So if you (or your parents) are paying out of pocket: this should be a no brainer.
– Travel abroad – this is probably the cheapest method for you to travel around the world! Most of the time, travel abroad costs usually include airfare, lodging, and transportation. So this only leaves you to cover your with meals and even those are sometimes covered in the fees. So pack up that suitcase and take that trip, you are bound to have the experience of a lifetime and if you can do so with some friends, even better!
– It’s okay to have a goal – while in college, I was determined, I had waited a year after graduating high school to start and decided that it had been vacation enough and wanted to recuperate the time lost by attending school year round full time including the summer. Meanwhile, I had former classmates who decided to “enjoy the college life” and skip terms instead. Needless to say, by the time they graduated, I was already in my second semester of graduate school.
– Do not stop at your bachelor’s – the workforce is becoming more and more filled with individuals with degrees so the more specialties you can learn (certificates included), the more marketable you will be.
Remember, these four years will definitely change your life! You will grow and may even adopt a different lifestyle (hopefully in a positive way lol), however, they will forever leave an imprint in your life and will also shape you for the workforce. Be sure to enjoy yourself but remember to keep your eyes on your goal. Ultimately, there is only one person directly affected by your choices and that is you.
Congratulations graduate, the world is yours to conquer!!!
Reese

Make your pantry practical for your on the go lifestyle!

Are you always on the go? If you are a working adult or even a college student, then your answer is most likely yes! While we try to balance our busy schedules, the first thing that we tend to cross out of our list is cooking. However, after about a week, not only will your wallet start to really take a hit but your waistline will soon follow. So over the past year, I’ve started to make changes to how I do my grocery shopping to incorporate quick ingredients that will make creating a meal faster. Today, we have to learn to make everything in our lives practical and the kitchen pantry is possibly one of the most important areas we can tailor to our lifestyles.  Whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks, having these ingredients will shorten your time in the kitchen and allow for you to focus on other tasks:

  • Eggs – this great source of protein pretty much is a must staple in any refrigerator! Whether boiled or fried, eggs do not take long to make and will help you stay full.
  • Pasta – whether it is spaghetti or macaroni, pasta does not take long to cook and is filling. If you are watching your weight, switch to whole wheat pasta or even a quinoa or brown rice pasta.
  • Cereal – a cereal that is high in fiber is not only rich in nutrients and filling but is probably the quickest meal you can get.
  • Potatoes – cut into cubes, sprinkle some salt and seasonings, place it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes and you have a great accompaniment for your protein for dinner. For a healthier version, use sweet potatoes.
  • Milk – a great source of calcium, milk will come in handy for eating cereal or making a quick smoothie. If you have lactose intolerance or prefer an alternative, rice, almond, or soy milk are also great to have in stock and last longer.
  • Salad – it will not require you to use the stove and if it is already in a bag, you will simply need a bowl to enjoy. Add in a protein to help make it a more hearty meal.
  • Seafood – shrimp and fish are my favorites! Not only are they great sources of protein but neither take a long time to cook or to season. Just be sure to take it out of the freezer in the morning so it may defrost and be ready to cook upon your return home.
  • Fruits – they will keep you healthier, are great as snacks and when frozen can be blended into a smoothie. Add some dry oats in the smoothie for more consistency.
  • Nut butters – peanut, cashew, or almond, any of these nut butters will not only provide you with a great source of protein (especially if you do not eat meat) but they are also filling and can be used as dipping for some of your fruits or vegetables.

There are tons of other ingredients that you can keep in your kitchen that will help you reduce your time preparing meals but the above are suggestions based on what I keep in my kitchen and I hope they will give you an idea of what to keep in your kitchen to help make planning your meals a little less stressful.

Stay healthy!

Reese

Undergarments Please!

Have you ever seen a beautiful outfit on someone and was totally distracted from the outfit because the person was wearing the wrong type of undergarment with it? I have seen this type of infraction so many times that it’s pretty much the norm and I am no longer surprised. However, this will never make the sight attractive and for this reason, I’d like to share some basic tips about some of the biggest wardrobe faux pas that have unfortunately become too common:
– Bra: your bra is your best friend ladies! It helps your breasts defy gravity by providing support. Wearing the wrong bra with your outfit will prevent you from looking your very best. Here is one major suggestion that every woman should do: have a professional measure your chest so you can have your true size! This will make a major difference when you wear your clothes. Some women go their whole adult lives wearing ill fitted bras and as a result their breasts continually want to pop out of the top and when wearing a form fitted shirt you see a clear indentation separating their breasts. This does not make for a pretty sight, so ladies, on your next trip to the mall, stop by the underwear store of your choice and ask for a professional to measure you. Specialty stores such as Victoria Secret and Soma Intimates will not only provide you with your measurements but they will give it to you in writing along with all of the models that come in your size. This is a free service and you are not obligated to make purchase if you are not inclined to.
– Bra Straps: if you are wearing an outfit that has a racer back or is a halter top, please be conscious and make the effort to wear the appropriate bra with the outfit. Whether it is a strapless bra or a racer back bra, please do the necessary so that every person passing you does not need to know that you are fond of your new cheetah print bra! If you are unable to afford these specialty bras, you can invest in some bra clips and easily convert a traditional bra into a racer back bra. For a sleeveless outfit, if you are comfortable with going without a bra and simply use pasties to conceal your privacy, then by all means do so!
– Underwear: this has become the worst offense out of all undergarment offenses! Whether it is the sight of underwear mark under a spandex outfit, or the clear sight of the prints of underwear under a light colored attire, this infraction is not only very distracting but it also lowers the value of your attire. Be sure to carefully select your underwear when preparing your outfits and always stock the following types of underwear: seamless, dark colored, and flesh colored. If you are comfortable with thongs, I would also suggest the same types as well in thongs.
Ladies, we invest too much time (and money sometimes) in our outfits to let the look be ruined by wearing the wrong undergarments. In my opinion, having the right undergarments that fit properly already is half of the final look! And finally, my advice is to ALWAYS look at yourself in the mirror prior to leaving your house and try your best to catch any faux pas.

Reese

Let it Go!

If you own any entertainment devices, you know the song “let it go” was the unofficial theme song of 2014! While Elsa speaks of letting go in a different manner, I just wanted to share my thoughts on learning to let it go in regards to relationships that may be crippling your life. Whether it is personal or professional, romantic or platonic, many of us struggle with learning to let go. I’m referring to the relationships that have intoxicated your life and even when you know you want to stop feeling this way, you have yet to muster the courage to say enough and walk away from them. If you are like me, they affect every aspect of your life including your mood, your attitude, and completely fill you with negativity that ultimately take your joy away and prevent you from living your glam life! All the while, the culprit is living his/her life totally unaffected while you are working on giving yourself a coronary!
This is particularly hard in our personal relationships as they are usually marked by many memories and were formed many years ago. There is a sense of guilt that takes over our minds for even thinking of ending the relationship even when we know that removing it would mean peace of mind. Instead, we have conditioned our minds and bodies to deal with the stress rather than to take action. Women do this best as we are nurturers by nature and tend to always extend the courtesy of understanding others when they deserve to be cut out of our lives. Through many deep conversations with a few of my girlfriends, I’ve recently compiled the following tips to help me overcome my “fear” of letting go and I hope you will find them useful:
– Take some time to think about the problem, analyze and talk it out with a trusted friend if needed – don’t just give it a passing thought, really think it through. If it was an issue with a mere acquaintance, you would have quickly decided to either cut them loose or it simply would not have mattered. Therefore, out of respect for the length of the relationship, I advise you take sufficient time to reflect on the relationship and its issues. If you have someone close to you with whom you can share details, talk it out and listen to their feedback.
– Once you have thoroughly analyzed the issue, make a decision – analyzing an issue with no solution resolves nothing. So once you have considered all of the options, choose wisely the one that you feel best meets your needs and will have the most positive effect on your quality of life.
– Take action! – this will be the hardest part of this exercise however your life will change for the better once that decision is made! There is something liberating about making a conscientious decision and the way you feel once you’ve implemented it in your life! If you reflected long and hard prior to coming to your decision, once you take action, you will feel like you removed a major burden off of your shoulders.
Remember, these tips are to help you declutter your mental space as I strongly believe that your mental state will definitely affect your outlook on everything around you including how you take care of yourself physically. It will slow you down and prevent you from reaching your full potential. In no way should any of these decisions be made out of malice but rather in a hope to better your life. So, keep your eyes on your main goal and anything negative that is standing in your way of reaching that dream: LET IT GO! And if you need some help to motivate you, I suggest that you simply put on that catchy tune and sing along with Elsa, it will surely put a smile on your face and give you a start!

Tomorrow is not promised, so enjoy today and make it your best!
Reese