The Cost of Beauty

Ok!  So, I semi-stole this title from Dr. OZ.  Last month, one of his shows featured products that we all love and use to make ourselves a bit more beautiful.  Anyone out there use mineral powder, wrinkle cream, or lip gloss?!?!?!  If you do, you’ll want to check out his site for how these products could be harming your health.  There is also a Dr. OZ cheat sheet that can help you pick products that are not harmful.

Isn’t it sad that we can just go to the store and trust that what we are purchasing won’t harm our health??? 

This is why tomorrow I will be hosting an Arbonne Party for my friends and family (although I doubt my dad and brothers will come!).  Arbonne is a beauty, health and wellness company that specializes in products that consist of pure and safe botanical ingredients.

“At Arbonne, beauty begins with premium botanical ingredients, innovative scientific discovery, and an unwavering commitment to pure, safe and beneficial products. Arbonne creates personal care and wellness products that preserve and enhance the skin, body and mind for an integrative approach to beauty. Working closely with scientists around the world and our Arbonne Institute of Research and Development (AIRD®) facility in Switzerland, we continually explore and develop scientifically advanced, botanically based proprietary formulas that meet our exacting standards for quality, safety and sustainability.” (Source)

My friend Kelly at Best of Nature by Kelly will be the consultant for this party, and let me tell you, she has AWESOME skin!  She literally glows! 

As you can tell by my post yesterday, it is very important to me that I use products that are sustainable, and that do not cause harm to animals.  I’ve been using the Arbonne FC5 Oil-Absorbing Day Lotion with SPF 20 and I love it!  I can’t wait to try more of their products.  I’ll fill you in on more tomorrow!

I’ve spent this evening shopping for treats to serve at the shindig tomorrow, and getting the house ready.  Sorry for such a short post! 

Check back tomorrow to learn more about Arbonne, and for a new healthy party recipe.

Enjoy your FRIDAY evening!!!! 


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!


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Back to the Grind- Take 2

Howdy, folks!  ;)  How was your Tuesday? 

It was back to the grind for me…  again! 

After almost an entire week off of work for snow, we went in for another half day today.  And get this!  It’s sleeting as we speak, and they are calling for another 3-6 inches of snow by tomorrow afternoon.  Ugh! 

Who wants to take a trip with me???

Last night I had the best of intentions.  After waiting all day to work out, just in case the mail lady came with P90X, I decided to browse the videos On Demand at Exercise TV

When I came across the description I was sold!

“Jeanette Jenkins will sculpt your entire body while burning calories with this high energy interval training workout.  Jeanette will have you alternating between kickboxing combinations and weight training moves to maximize your workout.” ~Exercise TV On Demand Description

And high energy it was!  I haven’t sweat like that in a while! 

Here’s a 40 second snippet of some of the weight training:


After 51 minutes of kicking butt, and girl-power punching, I burned over 700 calories!  My heart rate was between 88-97% the entire time!  Workout videos are not for sissies! 

After that, I was ready for some nutrients. 

I made Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Shitake Mushrooms, and FennelDSC01148 adapted from Clean Food by Terry Walters.

Brussels sprouts, shitake mushrooms, fennel bulb, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and a pinch of sea salt roasted for 25 mins at 425, tossed and roasted for another 25 mins.  Yummers!


I also made Quinoa and Sweet Corn from the same cookbook.


Frozen sweet corn, quinoa, and sautéed onions.




An irresistible combo full of color, flavor and texture!  


After a delicious and relaxing dinner with the hubbers, I decided to put into action my plan to get more rest.  I started my bed routine at 9:30.  Crawled into bed at 9:45, turned the TV off at 10:30, and stayed awake until… 11:30!

I just can NOT rest my mind. 

I decided to “do a little research.”  I am the Queen of Google of course!

I would like to see how I can use Yoga to help me calm my mind and relax my body before bed.

I found an article that is very much in line with what I have already put into place from Yoga Journal.  It recommends activities such as setting up rituals, getting to bed earlier, and keeping a journal. 

But here are three ideas I have not tried, but will try to incorporate beginning tonight:


Create a Wind-Down Period

The next step is to create some space between your busy day and sleep time. "You can’t just work until 9 at night, and then stick your head on the pillow and fall asleep," Khalsa says. So turn off the television, computer, and radio. Cut down on or eliminate evening classes and exercise that leaves you feeling amped up. When you come home, honor this transition by playing relaxing music, lighting candles, or putting on your favorite pajamas. Think of the yoga precept of pratyahara: Withdraw your senses in order to turn inward.

If your schedule allows you to practice yoga only in the evening and you enjoy a vigorous practice, be sure to end your session with a sequence of slow, passive poses. (Go to and type "Yin Yoga" or "restorative yoga" in the search box for sequence ideas.)


Breathe for Ease

Breathwork is another excellent addition to your nightly sleep routine. "Every time you exhale, it slows your heartbeat and that helps calm you down," says Roger Cole, an Iyengar Yoga teacher and a research scientist specializing in the physiology of sleep. Try two parts exhalation to one part inhalation. For example, start by exhaling through your nose to the count of 6 and then inhale through your nose to the count of 3. Do this for 5 to 30 minutes before bed.


Guide Your Relaxation

After getting into bed, try a body scan as you lie in Savasana (Corpse Pose): Progressively tense and then relax each part of your body. If you have trouble doing this on your own, get an audio CD of meditations, guided imagery, or Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep), to help. "This is good for people who have mental chatter," says Cole. "It takes their mind in a different direction."

Once you’ve chosen your specific nighttime ritual, repeat it every night to cue your body that it’s time for sleep. Khalsa says that after a few weeks of practice, your sleep will improve. "These things don’t work instantly, but over time you normalize arousal and sleep starts to get better." And as opposed to suffering from side effects such as headaches, dizziness, daytime drowsiness, and long-term dependence on drugs, you’ll feel better overall, instead of worse, with your nighttime routine. "It improves individuals on a holistic level, and other problems that they might have had also might start to dissipate," says Khalsa. Now that sounds like a side effect we can all live with.

It’s worth a shot!  I think tonight I will try to do some yoga poses before climbing into bed, and practice deep breathing.

So sweet dreams, my friends!  Breath deep and relax!  Summer is only 130 days away! 

What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day of work?


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!


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The Magic Bottle

“I wish there was some way to magically bottle up the rest, energy, and calm I experience during breaks, and spread it out over the workweek.”


I’ve only had to work 1/2 a day since Friday, February 5th.  Huge snowstorms have kept me snowed in, warm and cozy by the fire.


It’ll be nice to get back into a normal routine, but I have to admit this long “snow break” has been wonderful.  I’ve been able to work out every day, clean the house sporadically as needed, read quietly by the fire, and I have even found some time to do arts and crafts

Last Thursday, I began thinking about devising a plan to help me magically bottle up this feeling of rest, energy, and calm for the workweek. 

There is actually no magic to it.  Just simple common sense, science, and good ole fashion will power. 

I’ve decided to take it slow and work on one piece of the puzzle at a time.  My goal for this week is rest.


I have the hardest time falling asleep at night.  I toss and turn, and my mind races about a million miles an hour.  I think about all of the things I have to do, all of the things I didn’t get to that I should have, what I’m going to wear the next day, all of the mistakes I’ve made over the past 28 years, etc., etc., etc……. 

It is a serious problem.      

I feel that until I tackle this problem I will never be able to achieve the other two.  It is impossible to feel full of energy if you have not rested well.  You can not feel calm if you are dragging yourself around trying to accomplish the day’s tasks.

So, here is the plan:

  1. 1.  Begin my night time routine no later than 9:30 PM.
  2. Each night I do the usual get-ready-for-bed routine.  I wash my face, moisturize, take out my contacts, brush my teeth, make Sleepy Time Tea, etc.  But I do not always do this at the same time every night. 

Hopefully, this new, scheduled routine will let my body know that it is time to wind down.


  2. 2.  Turn the TV off no later than 10:30 PM every single night.
  3. This is seriously one of the worst habits that I have developed since college.  Because night time seems to be when my thoughts are most active and uncontrollable, I have taken to falling asleep watching TV.  If I am listening to a show, I am less likely to be driving myself crazy with mental to-dos. 
  5. However, this has created quite a different effect.  It does calm my mind, but I often end up staying up late listening to TV!     


3.  If I wake in the middle of the night, I will acknowledge my thoughts by writing them down.  If I find that I am still awake after 30 minutes, I will read until I feel that I am unable to keep my eyes open.

Enough said 🙂

This list is short and sweet for the time being.  I’m sure I’ll face further obstacles in this quest for better rest, but I’ll handle them as they come.  This week I plan on chronicling my journal for a more restful night.  

By getting enough rest, I feel I will more easily be able to attain my second and third goal: increased energy and a stronger sense of calm. 

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?  What do you do when you are having difficulties? 

  1. ~Jen

    magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Not Your Normal Arts and Crafts

Today I did something I have NEVER done before in my entire life.  (Well, not that I remember anyway.  I may have done this as a very small child.)

For the fifth official snow day of 2010, I had an Arts and Crafts Day (Source)

No, not the type with cotton balls, popsicle sticks, and fuzzy balls.  (Although, that may have been just as fun!)


I did…. 

wait for it…



Over the past two years, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law have given me various scrapbooking supplies. 

I have a nifty bag,DSC01140

 cool pens,DSC01142

super sharp scissors,  DSC01143





a photo cutter,            DSC01141


stickers, and more!  DSC01144

I even have a cool computer program that allows you to play with cool fonts for journaling and labels.

However, (confession time!) I have only scrapbooked onceEmbarrassed  I did three mediocre pages masterpieces, and messed up one (I glued it on the wrong side of the paper, so now it faces in the wrong direction). 

I have a fear of not being good enough. 

I have seen some pretty awesome scrapbooks in my life.  My sister-in-law, for one, does an AMAZING job!  She meticulously crafts the perfect pages to capture memories of everything from napping with dogs to weddings.  My friend, Ashley, creates true masterpieces full of color and energy.  And my mom’s friend, Dawn, well she could put us all to shame. 

On occasion,  I’ve pulled out the supplies and played around with pages, but I was afraid to make anything permanent.  My pages couldn’t possibly turn out well, and what if I cut the picture and totally messed it up, losing a piece of the memory it captured. 

Today I decided to push away all of that fear and anxiety, and JUST DO IT!

And you know what?  It was fun.  It was relaxing.  And it was exhilarating! 

For two complete hours today I was totally focused.  I was quiet.  And I had no emphatic thoughts racing through my mind.  My mind was simply calm.

On her post today, Caitlin, of Healthy Tipping Point, posted a Reader’s Question.  This reader was feeling  insecure about trying new activities at the gym, and wanted to know how Caitlin managed to keep a positive attitude as she was learning to live a healthier and more active lifestyle. 

When I read this post I related it to the way I used to feel (and occasionally still do) when lifting weights alone at the gym.  It took me a while to learn that everyone was not looking at me, and that they were not judging me.  The more I lifted on my own, the better I got, and the more confident I felt.

While reading this post did not cause me to pull out my scrapbooking supplies and get crafting (I randomly did this on my own), I can now reflect on how these two scenarios are remarkably relevant. 

I was afraid to scrapbook because I was afraid that people would look at what I had done and judge me.  Just as I was afraid, at first, to share this blog with friends, family, and the public. 

However, how can we ever get better at something, or become confident with our abilities, if we do not step out of comfort zone and give it a try.

My scrapbook pages today weren’t perfect.  I’m sure there are a ka-zillion and one ways I could have made the pages more colorful and creative.  But they are a true reflection of my own style, and of my own capabilities at this time.  It may take weeks, months, or even years for me to feel confident as a true “scrapbooker.”  But hey, I’m still in the learning process! 

Is there something you have been wanting to try, but are worried about stepping out of your comfort zone?

This revelation leads very well into the topic for my next post.  Check back later for more!

And just to get you thinking, here’s a thought to ponder:



magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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Snow, Sweat, and SUPER BOWL

We woke this morning to a glorious sight.

DSC01119 DSC01116

Everything was covered in a white blanket of snow.  Icicles hung from the eaves of every building, and tree branches hung low, bowing under the weight of the freshly fallen snow and ice.  And all of this was against a backdrop of the bluest sky we’ve seen in weeks.

For the second day in a row, we woke early and made breakfast.  Today we had omelets and Ezekiel toast.  DSC01121 


Larry had a three egg omelet with spinach and mozzarella.  He also ate the leftover steak from last night’s dinner.




I had an egg white omelet with spinach, mozzarella and a fair amount of freshly cracked pepper.  Oh, and two warm Morning Star sausage links. 



After eating breakfast, we went straight to the gym.  We rode silently down the road in amazement.  I could not stop staring out the window admiring the snow dusted woods along the highway. 


I don’t think we even realized that we hadn’t spoken a single word during the entire trip until we pulled into the gym’s parking lot.    

But once we were there, we got right to business.  I love working out at the gym on Sunday mornings.  There is never a huge crowd, and we usually don’t have major plans on Sundays, so there is no need to rush.

Here’s our workout from today.  As you can tell we focused on shoulders and traps.

Followed by a 35 Minutes Walk/Run on Treadmill:

  • 5 minutes walking at incline 10% and 3.5 mph,
  • 5 minutes running at 0% incline and 6.0 mph,
  • 5 minutes walking at 15% incline and 3.5 mph,
  • 5 minutes running at 0% incline and 6.2 mph,
  • 5 minutes walking at 15% incline and 3.5 mph,
  • 5 minutes running at 0% incline and 6.5-7.5 mph,
  • 5 minutes walking at 15% incline and 3.5 mph,
  • 5 minute treadmill programmed cool down

We felt great after that intense workout!  We went home and the first thing I did was refuel!

I mixed leftover salad from last night with a few leftover baked tofu cubes and a smidge of Annie’s Goddess Dressing.  It was a fantastic combination!

DSC01123I then made a little dessert snack to go with it. 


     1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese

+ 1/4 cup granola

+  sprinkle of cinnamon

= yummity-yum-yum!

I will definitely remember this for the future!

I felt pretty exhausted after our intense workout, so after I showered up, put on my cozy fleece pants, and blow dried my hair (for the first time in a week!), I curled up on the couch and continued reading Percy Jackson.  What can I say?  Children’s Literature is my forte! 😉

After a few hours of lounging on the couch, I did get up to make some super bowl snacks for our fantastically fabulous Super Bowl Party of 2 (plus 2 dogs!).  None of which was healthy 😉



Baked Mushroom Poppers with a rosemary sour cream sauce, spinach dip, a sausage, cream cheese, and rotel tomato dip, and multi-grain corn chips.

Everything in moderation my friends.  Everything in moderation!

What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday?   

And don’t forget!  It’s not too late to vote on your favorite Bridesmaid Dress for Beth’s Wedding!


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!


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Bridesmaids Dresses and Salads Dressed

While Dallas lounged by the fire,


and Larry tried to get Lucy to give kisses (She’s very particular about who she kisses.  He was trying to blow candy breath in her face, which usually works, but not tonight),


I was making a masterpiece of a salad.

shapes salad (Source)

Although our salad did not turn out as beautiful as the one above, I’m pretty confident that it tasted just about the same 🙂

I found this recipe in a Shape Magazine a few months back.  It was adapted from  the Beach House at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii (1 Ritz-Cartlon Drive,

I only made three changes to the recipe.  1) I used agave nectar instead of sugar in the dressing.  2) I marinated and grilled a portabella mushroom for me along with a steak for Larry.  3) I did not using dressing on the mushroom version of this salad, because the grilled mushroom was so juicy that it provided its own “dressing.”

Sesame steak salad

Serves: 4 (Serving size: 2 ½ cups salad mixture, 4 oz. steak)

Prep Time: 45 minutesCook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Nutrition Score per serving:

381 calories, 21 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 19 g carbs, 29 g protein, 3 g fiber, 88 mg calcium, 4 mg iron, 782 mg sodium


For marinade and steak

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon thinly sliced green onion

1/8 teaspoon pepper

16-ounce flank steak

For dressing

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon chile flakes

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons canola oil

For salad

8 cups baby spinach

3/4 cup diced papaya

1/4 cup julienned radicchio

1/4 cup julienned carrots

2 tablespoons daikon sprouts

2 tablespoons julienned red pepper

2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon cilantro


In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, sugar, ginger, sesame oil, cilantro, garlic, green onion, and pepper. Put mixture and steak in a zip top plastic bag; refrigerate 45 minutes, turning once or twice.

Meanwhile, to make dressing, heat water and sugar on the stove until reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in lime juice, oyster sauce, lemon juice, chile flakes, and garlic. Whisk in oil; set aside.

Preheat grill or grill pan. Grill steak for 2 minutes per side for medium rare.

In a large bowl, combine spinach, papaya, radicchio, carrots, daikon sprouts, red pepper, peanuts, mint, and cilantro. Toss with dressing. Place 2 1/2 cups of salad mixture onto four plates. Slice steak thinly on the diagonal and divide the slices evenly between each salad. (Source)

It was simply amazing!


This is my mushroom version.


DSC01097 DSC01086 This is a must try salad.

The cilantro, mint leaf, and radicchio make the salad so flavorful, that you don’t even need a dressing!

Speaking of Dressing!

I need to pick a Bridesmaids Dress for my friend Beth’s wedding in June.

As you can see, Beth is incredibly beautiful and fashionable.  I do not want to let her down.

So, I’m asking for your help.  I’ve narrowed the picks down to two dresses.

Dress 1

dress 1 dress 2 alt (Source)

Dress 2

dress 2 dress 1 alt (Source)

Larry has cast his vote.  Let’s see what your vote is!


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