Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Super Food Secrets: Apple Cider Vinegar

I learned about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) through  the Tone It Up nutrition plan. The plan recommends  drinking ACV every morning with breakfast. I don’t follow Tone it Up strictly anymore but I still drink ACV every morning. I will warn you that ACV is very strong and does take a little getting used to.  I recommend drinking it through a straw to help preserve the enamel of your teeth. Curious to why I drink bitter vinegar each morning? Here are some of the health benefits. The raw form of vinegar is recommended since it contains the "mother" of the vinegar which looks like cloudy strands floating at the bottom of the bottle. These strands contain important enzymes that give ACV it's health benefits. 

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar:        
Keep you from feeling hungry by slowing stomach emptying
Help regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol
Soothe upset stomachs and help to remove toxins the body
Prevents indigestion
Help clear up skin and blemishes
Help with weight loss by breaking down fats

There are many ways to get a daily dose of ACV including incorporating it into marinades or dressings. I choose to drink ACV first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to help aid in digestion and absorb nutrients from the vinegar. You can drink ACV straight up like a shot mixed with a bit of water but I found that a bit to harsh in the mornings. My favorite way to enjoy ACV is mixed with fresh fruit juice and a dash of cinnamon.

Tropical Super Juice
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple juice
2 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
1-2 drops liquid stevia
1 dash cinnamon

Stir together and drink. This juice is great for before breakfast.

Sources: 28 Health and Beauty Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar & Web MD

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mediterranean Cruise: Rome

Hope everyone is having a great week. I am finally coming to grips that summer vacation is coming to an end. I am actually ready to start back work and can't wait to share some exciting changes happening next month! Today I am sharing the last and final recap of our trip this June. I am so happy to have gotten it all written down and know I will treasure these memories for years to come.

After our cruise, we spend three nights in Rome. We spent the first day wandering the streets and getting orientated with the ancient city. My favorite part of the day was enjoying lunch by the Trevi Fountain and enjoying local street performers.

We started our second day in Rome at Vatican City.  I booked a guided tour through Dark Rome Tours that included the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Vatican as well as the vast collection of art. Here are some highlights of our tour.
I could not believe the security at the start of the Vatican Museums. The massive crowds of tour groups speaking multiple languages was overwhelming. 

We started our tour at the gardens and then went through many gallery halls filled with tapestries, sculptures and paintings.  


We also toured several rooms included in the tour that included huge murals and pieces of art commissioned by the Popes over the years. This included Raphael's Room and the School of Athens. 

No pictures are allowed in the Sistine Chapel and you are required to remain silent in reverence. The frescos in the chapel were amazing. There is not a corner left untouched with elaborate detail. Also, the size of the Sistine chapel ceiling is breathtaking and unbelievable that it was painted over 500 years ago. 

Our last stop was St. Peter's basilica. Not knowing much about the Catholic faith I was unsure what to expect. The ornate ceiling and size of the chapel is humbling. Honestly, pictures do not do the beautiful basilica justice. 

After the Vatican, we stopped in a nearby gelato shop called The Old Bridge. This was the best gelato we had in Rome and I am still dreaming of my pistachio and ricotta gelato a month later. 

After our sweet lunch, we walked to La Plaza Nova and then the Parthenon. It was an easy walk thanks to the cool breeze of the Tiber River and the shade of the buildings.  

After a much needed cat nap that afternoon we headed back out for dinner. We enjoyed dinner near the hotel and then spent the evening watching the sun set at the Spanish Steps. 

On our last day in Rome we took a tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. We also did the tour with Dark Rome Tours. The Colosseum is currently under major construction but it did not impede our tour at all.  

The Roman Forum is now in messy ruins due to pillaging and erosion over the decades. Our tour guide gave us insight into what the forum may have looked like in it's prime. 

The view from the Palatine Hill was beautiful and well worth the 5 minute walk from the Roman Forum. Palatine Hill contains  remains of  the most ancient part of the city. 

We spent our last afternoon wandering around the forum, enjoying pizza and ending the night with one last cup of gelato. Oh my it was divine! The next morning we headed to the Rome airport and began our trip home. Highlight of the trip home was seeing part of the Italian World Cup team in the Rome airport! 


Monday, July 28, 2014

Sharing the Sale

Over the past 2-3 years, I am finding I have extreme brand loyalty. When I find a brand of clothing that fits me well, I will continue to shop there until they change the fit or quality.  The same goes for make-up and skincare products. My favorite skincare line is Philosophy. I have been using their cleanser and moisturizer for almost 10 years now. How's that for brand loyalty? If you haven't tried their amazing skincare line or are an avid admirer like myself, I wanted to share a great sale! QVC is featuring Philosophy this week and you can check out all the sales online {here}.  Check out some of my favorites from the sale. 

Purify and refresh your beautiful skin duo- $40 {here}
The Purity face wash is perfect to use at night to get off tough mascara and eye makeup. I love the Take a Deep Breath Moisturizer because is it oil free and feels so lightweight on your skin especially in the summer humidity.

Ultimate peel party collection- $60 {here}
This kit contains two microdelivery peel pads, two microdelivery vitamin c peel packets and one oxygen peel to use with catalase enzyme capsules and oxygen foam. This kit includes everything you need to indulge in a spa peel in the comfort of your home. This kit sells for over $70 at Sephora.

2-step vitamin C microdelivery peptide peel- $70 {here}
This kit targets sun-damaged skin to help gently resurface, remove dead and dry skin cells and rejuvenate dull complexions. I just started using the peel pads and have noticed a huge difference in my skin even in  small amount of time I have been using them.

Cleanse peel and treat skin care trio $96 {here}
These three are my go to for simple skincare routine. Purity made simple cleanser has been my favorite since college. The light scent is refreshing and it deep cleans without being too harsh. I use the microdelivery peel once to twice a week. After I turned 25, I started to notice that my skin did not bounce back as well as it did in my early 20's. Hope is not enough facial firming serum really tightens and refreshes my skin.

Are you a brand loyalist or do you mix and match brands? What's your favorite skin care product?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Five

Fridays in the summer are always bittersweet. Each one that passes marks another week closer to school starting. I am always glad to have more friends to hang out with during the weekend though! Here are a few things I'm loving this week to get this Friday started.

{One} Reading. French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano. I picked up this book last week at the library after reading her first book, French Women Don't Get Fat. In the book, Mireille highlights living life to the fullest while still maintaining a svelte figure. She emphasizes using in season produce for a healthy lifestyle. This book may be a bit of an oldie but a good nutrition plan advice never really ages.

{Two} Eating. Capanota is an antipasto with eggplant, tomatoes, capers and olives. Jamie Oliver's Italian cookbook that I blogged about here has a great recipe for capanota that rivals the dishes I enjoyed while in Rome. You can check out the recipe here if you want to try it at home. I've been local ingredients from the farmers market and could eat this for dinner each night!

{Three} Wishlist Worthy. The Nordstrom anniversary sale is still going on y'all if you have not checked it out do your wallet a favor and hop on over! Some things in my shopping cart are this bracelet by Moon and Lola, these leggings by Zella and these adorable bow flats.

{Four} Currently Watching.  I have found myself being sucked into Sunday nights on Food Network. I feel like such an old lady but I just love watching Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis (major girl crush) on the Next Food Network Star and Cutthroat Kitchen. Does anyone else watch TV shows that feel way out of their age range?

{Five} Just love this quote. It reminds me to be in the moment and make the most of each day.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mediterranean Cruise: Amalfi Coast & Pompeii

Our last port on the cruise was Naples, Italy. From Naples we took a short bus ride to Sorrento where we boarded small boat to tour the Amalfi coast.


The views of the coast from the water were spectacular. The view of the beaches and resorts were from a completely different perspective than from the road. From the water, the hotels appeared to be rising out of the side of the cliffs. Some hotels had elevators to take guests down to the beach!


The Amalfi Coast is known for their lemon crop which is used to make delicious limoncello. Due to the hilly terrain they grow the produce on terraces.  

 We stopped at the town of Almafi for shopping and exploring. At the entrance of the town, there was a beautiful cathedral that dates back to the 11th century.   

We explored the shops and bakeries in the town. I stumbled across a pastry shop after my own heart. Check out the size of those pastries. They were larger than your head!  

We also found an astronomically large lemon as well as some delicious limoncello.  

 We visited a local craftsman that created hand carved cameos from local shells.  The man in the picture makes each cameo by hand. It was a family run business that had been in operation for over 50 years. He makes traditional portrait cameos as well as floral designs. 

After our boat tour, we visited the ancient city of Pompeii. The ruins were amazing to see in person. No amount of reading about it in books or recent movies prepares you for the massive scale of the city. Only  two-thirds of the city has been excavated. The ruins are well preserved underground but once exposed to the air and elements begin to deteriorate. They have decided to keep the remaining part of the city underground to preserve it for future generations. 

Prior to it's eruption, Mt. Vesuvius was one giant mountain. After it's catastrophic explosion two smaller mounds were formed. 

We spent a full two hours exploring Pompeii and I thought that was just enough time. We used a tour guide for this trip and I am thankful we did since there was so much history to take in with such a short amount of time. The tour guide kept us on track and on time!