Thursday, January 26, 2012

2011 Favorites: Beauty, Nail and Skin Care

Hello ladies,

Before we move too far into 2012, I wanted to revisit my favorite products of the past year. Below is a showcase of items for beauty, nail and skin care that have become essentials in my routine. You can click on the links below the photos to explore the full product reviews.

Hard Candy Fox in a Box

I use this Hard Candy blush and bronzer duo almost every day. Adding warmth and color to the skin year round, I love how this product helps to create subtle contouring on the cheeks and jaw line.  

Art Club Sealer

Art Club Sealer is my absolute favorite nail art topcoat. Replacing Konad special topcoat for protecting stamping designs, Art Club Sealer will prevent smearing and leaves a high gloss, bubble free shine. It also works beautifully to adhere rhinestones, fimo, dried flowers and other 3D nail art materials. 

Nubar: Freeze Dry

Nubar Freeze Dry is an amazing treatment. It dries polishes hard in minutes. If you are struggling with a pesky formula that refuses to cure, Freeze Dry is up to the task. I utilize Freeze Dry for pedicures as well. 

Neutrogena: Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

Neutrogena Hand Cream is an effective and affordable way to nourish and protect hands from winter dryness. It's a great drug store staple. 

The Skin Society: Miracle Lift

If you want your skin to look fresher and more youthful, apply Miracle Lift as a daytime treatment. 

Mario Badescu: Cellufirm Moisturizer

Mario Badescu Cellufirm Moisturizer provides deep hydration and adds a youthful fullness to the skin.  

Refinee: Nourishing Daily Cleanser

Nourishing Daily Cleanser from Refinee hydrates as it gently sweeps away makeup and impurities. I especially love this cleanser during the warmer weather. It does a thorough job of removing sunscreen without causing redness or irritation. Perfect for ladies with sensitive or aging skin!

Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser is a joy to use. It's delectable citrus scent makes removing makeup in the evening much more pleasurable.

Burt's Bees: Orange Essence Facial Cleanser

Reviva Labs: Lindenflower Facial Spray 

Reviva Labs: High Potency Collagen Serum

Every year I seem to discover new favorites from Reviva Labs. My medicine cabinet houses 
an assortment since I use at least one of their products daily. Their Lindenflower Facial 
Spray is perfect after exercise to cleanse and freshen my face and neck. If your skin is dry, 
you may want to try their Rosewater Facial Spray

High Potency Collagen Serum assists in hydrating the skin and encouraging smoothness. I love 
the results of this serum when applied under an evening moisturizer. 

Have you ladies tried any of my 2012 favorites? What products have you discovered recently
 that have become indispensable to your routine? 

Happy painting, ladies!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Health and Whimsy: Nuts everyday!

Hello ladies,

I snack on seasoned nuts or fruit and nut medleys almost every day. Protein rich, nuts help encourage strong nails, lustrous hair and a bright complexion. Nuts are a heart healthy food. Rich in unsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids, consuming nuts is linked to lower cholesterol. Walnuts are the highest in Omega 3s. I enjoy adding a handful of walnuts to stir fries with mushrooms and root vegetables.

Another benefit of nuts is iron content, which is important for women. About a year ago, my iron levels dropped. I had less color in my cheeks and became exhausted easily. Along with adding more spinach to my diet, nuts became one of my favorite snacks. Nuts also contain dietary fiber.

I rarely return from a shopping trip from Trader Joe's without trying a new nut blend or purchasing a known favorite. Rosemary Pecans and Cranberries along with Thai Chile and Lime Cashews are often found in my cabinet. Sahale Snacks is another well loved brand. I enjoy their Glazed Almonds with cranberries, honey and sea salt, Valdosta Pecans with sweet cranberries, black pepper and orange zest, and Sing Buri Cashews with pineapple, peanuts, lemongrass and mild chili.

Sahale Snacks Sing Buri Cashews

Sahale Snacks Glazed Almonds

Sahale Snacks Valdosta Pecans

Trader Joe's Thai Lime & Chili Cashews

Trader Joe's Rosemary Pecans & Cranberries

As a vegetarian, the most common question I am asked is: How do you get enough protein?. Thankfully, this isn't as difficult as it would seem. My good friend, Cassandra Johnson, Boston area nutrition consultant and coach, suggests the following formula to calculate protein needs: Take your weight in pounds and divide the number by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms. Then multiply that number by .8 to get protein grams. 

She also suggests spreading your protein intake throughout the day so your body can use it easily. This provides a steady supply of protein for your cells. In her practice she found that many people eat carbs and fat all day and forget about protein until dinner. A serving of nuts offers an easy fix for this common behavior. My favorite nut mixes contain up to five grams of protein. I often eat a serving of nuts before or after working out to maintain my energy levels.

For those concerned about the calorie content, a quarter cup serving size of nuts is easy to calculate. Simply hold out your hand. The amount of nuts that fits easily into your palm is the perfect amount. You can test this by using a measuring cup to start. I recommend pouring out a single serving size and walking away from the bag!

More progress this past week! I am down another pound, for 25 pounds lost since September 1st. Beginning the seventh week of P90X, I am experiencing noticeable increases in strength. I carried two heavy bags eight blocks from the grocery store and wasn't fatigued. With city living, being able to purchase more items in a single shopping trip helps with efficiency.

Do you ladies enjoy snacking on nuts? Do you have a favorite brand or medley? How was your week in health and fitness? Any news or successes to report?

You can read more about the products mentioned in this feature and discover other healthy snacks at and

Health and Whimsy is intended as a journal of my personal experience. Please consult your doctor before  making any changes to your health regimen. 

Happy painting, ladies!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Skin Society: Fabulous Night Serum

Hello ladies,

Fabulous Night Serum from The Skin Society helps keep my skin smooth and hydrated in all seasons. This dual purpose serum can be used singly or layered under your favorite night cream for maximum emollience. Those with normal, dry, sensitive or aging skin would benefit from the nutritive, botanical formula containing Vitamins A, B5, C and E, along with Omega 3 and 6.

I began using Fabulous Night Serum in the summer as a single layer over cleansed skin. In the winter, I apply this serum as a prelude to my evening moisturizer. Layering a night cream over a serum enhances overall hydration. This product helps my skin to retain a youthful appearance. Hydrated skin will maintain a look of fullness, naturally minimizing the appearance of fine lines.

Although the consistency is slightly heavier than most serums I have tried, it absorbs well. I believe Fabulous Night Serum would be a little rich for oily or acne prone skin types. If your skin is in the normal to very dry category, this serum would be worth adding to your regimen. 

The packaging design allows for clean and efficient use of product. An inner cylinder moves upward as the serum is dispensed, keeping the contents from being exposed to air. The pump top can be unscrewed to access a final application. There is no product waste nor worry of contamination with normal use and proper storage. 

I recommend reading through the Skin Care Glossary to learn about the components in Fabulous Night Serum. Don't be misled by the chemical sounding names; The ingredients are naturally derived.

Ingredients: Distilled Water, Squalane (from Olive), Isononyl Isononanoate, Coco-Caprylate, Glycerin, Acrylates Polymer, VP/Polycarbamyl Polyglycol Ester, Hydrolysed Sesame Protein, PG-Propyl Methylsilanediol, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Sodium Palmitoyl Protein, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Oleyl Alcohol and Dioscorea Villosa Root Extract, Glycine Soya Sterols, Arachidyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Borage Oil, Flax Seed Oil (Omega 3 and 6 Complex), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinol, Palmitoyl Glycine, Cocoyl Alanine, Palmitoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Polyacrylate 13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Proline, Magnesium Palmitoylglutamate, Sodium Palmitoylsarcocinate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Retinol Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E),  Retinol-Capryloylhydroxamic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Phytate, Natural Fragrance.

Obtained from olives, squalane is a natural oil that has a similar molecular structure to human sebum. This allows squalane to absorb readily into the skin for optimal hydration. It has been shown beneficial in the prevention of age spots.

Sesame is useful in encouraging the skin to retain moisture. Naturally enriched with the antioxidants Vitamins A and E, sesame assists in fighting the free radical damage that leads to pre-mature aging.

If you are looking for a product that can effectively hydrate your skin throughout the year, Fabulous Night Serum is a quality choice. I appreciate having skin care that can perform through seasonal weather changes, as it helps streamline my routine as well as the appearance of my medicine cabinet!

Fabulous Night Serum was sent to me for review. A 1 fl. ounce (30ml) bottle retails for $42.50 and can be purchased at

Happy painting, ladies.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Health and Whimsy: My favorite health and fitness magazines.

Hello ladies,

Reading health and fitness magazines each month encourages me to maintain focus on my goals. Having titles like Women's Health, Shape, Fitness, Health and Self on my magazine rack is a visual reminder to continue positive momentum throughout the year. While each publication has beneficial features, I will outline my favorites.

Women's Health is my top pick. With its newsy and informative content, I am guaranteed to learn something about nutrition in every issue. I appreciate the well written articles and the amount of research required to put together a magazine filled with health and nutrition facts. The motivational tips are presented in an accessible style that doesn't underestimate the reader's intelligence. 

I am excited for the direction Shape is taking in 2012. The magazine brought on a new weight loss diarist, Yasmin Rammohan, who has an affirming self view and wants to incorporate diet and exercise as part of her positive lifestyle changes. I think her attitude is a fantastic start and I'm looking forward to reading about her progress each month. I am enjoying the Workout of the Month feature with travel friendly, tear out sheets in lightweight cardboard. I appreciate the suggestions Shape offers for healthy substitutions for traditional menu favorites.

Fitness consistently shows a variety of moves to keep your workout routine interesting. The visuals of portion controlled meals are useful to put serving suggestions and restaurant menu items into proper perspective. I appreciate that Fitness is devoted to featuring healthy, non-models of various sizes.

If you want to learn about creating a balanced diet and the benefits of specific foods, Health can get you started. There are articles each month about the links between nutrition and disease prevention. This magazine is a great resource to understand how the foods we choose affect our overall wellness.

Self magazine is a fusion of health and fitness with trends in beauty and fashion. A fun read with a lighthearted approach to self care, this publication will entertain you with celebrity interviews and destination fashion shoots. 

While all five publications offer useful tips on diet and exercise, I would most recommend Women's Health and Health for information on nutrition and meal planning. Shape and Fitness showcase updated workout moves to add to your routine to keep it fresh and effective. Self  blends wellness with style.

I'll give Oxygen an honorable mention. I appreciate the articles on eating a clean diet. The magazine has a strong training focus and is well suited for ladies who are interested in weight lifting for competition or are devoted to strength training. I will likely pick up the occasional copy at the bookstore.

If you choose to purchase or subscribe to any of these magazines, don't be taken in by the advertisements for diet pills, weight loss vitamins or shakes. These publications are for profit; Their content doesn't mirror their advertising. You will find thoughtful articles about sensible meal plans side by side with ads for protein powders promoting fast weight loss. I understand they need to stay in business and limit my interest to the articles and features.

Occasionally, I have trouble with the format of success stories. The momentum of these articles shows women who report vast changes in their self confidence and lifestyles before and after weight loss. There are unflattering descriptions about their weight gain such as how they ballooned or packed on pounds. 

I think the editors need to do a better job presenting success stories with respect to women's bodies of all shapes and sizes. I can still appreciate the tips in these articles and the work these women have done to succeed in their goals. I would prefer the focus of the stories to be more positive start to finish. The message that weight loss will change your life dramatically is incomplete at best. A focus on health and fitness needs to be accompanied with ongoing attention to self esteem and self care.

When I began Health and Whimsy, I was mindful that I wanted to let my confidence and good feeling show each week. I don't feel any need to put myself down for past choices or exalt myself for my current behavior. I'm simply living my life and I am happy with who I am today.

This past week had been positive for me. I am down another pound, with 24 pounds lost since since September 1st. While I am enjoying the muscle toning workouts from #P90X, I am planning to get out power walking this week and take part in the lovely, unseasonably warm January. I am going to mix in the DVDs with walking.

To adhere to my resolution about reducing the amount of cheese I consume, I decided not to buy any until after March 1st. There is enough cheese in my fridge to enjoy over the next few weeks if I am careful. I already began switching out servings with soy cheese. As much as I prefer whole foods over processed (and the majority of soy products are considered processed or functional foods), dairy cheese consumption isn't the best for weight loss/maintenance or heart health.

Do you read health and fitness magazines? Which are your favorites? How are you doing with your New Year's Resolutions?

Health and Whimsy is intended to be a journal of my personal experience. Be sure to consult your doctor before making any changes to your health regimen. 

Happy painting, ladies!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reviva Labs: Elastin and Collagen Skin Toner

Hello ladies,

I have been having a positive experience with Elastin and Collagen Skin Toner by Reviva Labs. This freshening toner assists in cleansing and nourishing dry, sensitive and aging skin. When used before applying anti-aging serums or moisturizers, Elastin and Collagen Skin Toner can help enhance overall hydration.

I utilize Elastin and Collagen Skin Toner after cleansing each evening. Moistening two cotton rounds, I use one to freshen my t-zone and another to hydrate my cheeks and neck. This toner can also be applied on the chest and bust before moisturizing. It does an exemplary job in helping to soften dry skin.

Regular use of this product will normalize and balance skin across the entire face. It has helped to prevent the dryness on my cheeks I typically experience in colder weather.

Elastin and Collagen Skin Toner has an uplifting floral scent, making it a pleasure to use. The natural fragrance is potent enough to enjoy during application, but doesn't linger. I appreciate when skin care combines effective ingredients with a scent that makes the process feel beautifying.

I really wish this toner had been packaged in a larger bottle with a spray top. Application with cotton works perfectly, but I would love the opportunity to mist my skin for hydration during dry, winter weather.

Ingredients: Water, Sorbitol, Polysorbate 20, Hydrolyzed Elastin, Soluble Collagen, Vitamins A& E, Natural Oil Fragrance, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.

A protein that helps promote elasticity in the skin, elastin will encourage skin to remain smooth and supple. The molecular structure of elastin allows for absorption into skin for optimal delivery of moisture.

Collagen helps bind moisture to the skin. With an ability to hold many times its weight in water, collagen is useful for increasing the look of fullness in dry and aging skin.

If you are looking to amplify your skin's moisture levels for a more youthful appearance, I highly recommend Elastin and Collagen Skin Toner.

Elastin and Collagen Skin Toner was sent to me for review. A 4 fluid ounce bottle (118 ml) is currently on sale for $8 at

Happy painting, ladies!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hard Candy: Nobody's Perfect Concealer Palette

Hello ladies,

I have been working with the Hard Candy Nobody's Perfect Concealer Palette to minimize skin imperfections and dark circles. With three tone correctors and coordinating foundation shades for blending, this palette offers a multitude of options for mixing the perfect shade for concealing flaws.

Hard Candy Nobody's Perfect Concealer Palette in Fair

Fair Palette with Concealer Brush

Concealer Brush

Available in light and medium palettes, the three tone correcting colors can be blended with the nude shades or your own favorite foundation or concealer. The green, yellow and pink aren't as heavily pigmented as other brands sold in individual tubes. This makes at home application much more fool proof. It's useful to have all the colors packaged together for easier blending. I also prefer the palette as a cost effective option.

Green can be used to camouflage pink or red coloration from acne, rosacea, irritation, cuts and broken capillaries. Yellow will minimize under eye circles. Pink helps transform sallow skin and equalize yellow tone bruises.

I have primarily been using the green and the yellow tones. The three correcting colors are in a white base. Having very fair skin, I didn't think I would be able to use all three nude shades. I was surprised how mixing the green with the darkest skin shade created a match. I prefer the yellow with the middle shade as an under eye concealer. I utilize the lightest tone on its own as a basic concealer.

When the tone correctors are blended with shades darker than your natural skin tone, there is no need to layer foundation on top. If the goal is to conceal and brighten, the lightest flesh tones can be used under foundation and powder.

While I am loving the results of this palette, it took some experimentation to combine the shades perfectly. I wish the tray would have had some empty compartments to make blending easier. A brush with white bristles would have been useful as well. It took me a few tries, but once I understood the best blending techniques, I was able to recreate the desired combinations easily.

If you are looking to experiment with tone correcting makeup, Nobody's Perfect Concealer Palette is both effective and affordable. I enjoy being able to practice professional make up techniques at home with favorable results.

Nobody's Perfect Concealer Palette was sent to me for review. To learn about the full line of products, visit Stop by a Walmart retail location or purchase on-line at The retail price is $8 USD.

Happy painting, ladies!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Health and Whimsy: Success with New Year's Resolutions

Hello ladies,

I know many of you are putting together your New Year's resolutions. I am going to share my list with you along with some tips of what has worked for me and strategies for success.

The first thing to recognize when creating your list is know the difference between resolutions and results. Lose ten pounds is commonly included. This is simply not a resolution. A better way to approach a desire to lose weight is to make your resolutions specific with what behaviors you need to follow weekly. This will help you convert a wish to lose weight into a plan and then an achievement.

I will also advise against fixating on a specific goal weight and instead urge you to focus on fitting into a clothing size that is healthy for your body. The scale only gives a partial story. A woman who is athletic and has developed lean muscle can weigh over 10 pounds more and still be the same size as woman who is thin, but not muscular. Personally, I would rather have more muscle than a lower number on the scale.

While I don't think there is anything wrong with keeping a general goal weight in mind, if you have to micromanage your diet and exercise to maintain that number, then give yourself permission to weigh three to five pounds more and live a happier life. If you are the type of person who becomes too reliant on the scale, I advise throwing it out (or packing it away) and weighing in occasionally at the gym or the doctor's office. You can chart your progress using a measuring tape or by the fit of your clothes.

My new day planner helps keep me organized.

2012 New Year's Resolutions

Part of my list will contain behaviors that have worked for me in the recent past and that I want to turn into consistent, healthy habits. Other resolutions will present new challenges.

  • Teach my friend Laura how to cook. We can start in late February as both of us will have more established schedules at that time. Cooking is my strongest point when it comes to healthy living. Sharing your talents can make establishing or sticking to a health program more enjoyable. 
  • Finish the first round of P90X (9 more weeks) and complete one more round of the program in 2012. 
  • Establish a weekly workout schedule (when not doing P90X) that includes at least one day of yoga and a day of strength training. Since I enjoy power walking, this activity will likely round out my routine. I do best when I am exercising five or six days a week. 
  • Continue writing Health & Whimsy. I have been enjoying sharing my progress each week. I'm looking forward to introducing topics as well as devoting some weeks to journaling about behaviors and changes. If you have a blog and are planning on spending more time on your health in 2012, I suggest sharing your experience with your readers. Keeping a positive attitude and healthy focus is key, whatever regimen you choose to follow. I am delighted with the interest and reach Health & Whimsy has gathered. I certainly wasn't expecting to be inspiring so many of my readers to make positive changes in their lives. I feel blessed for the opportunity. 
  • Keeping a food journal. I have been logging my meals and snacks on Twitter @ladyfingersblog. I was surprised to discover that my followers on Twitter were recreating some of my healthy meals at home and adding my favorite snacks to their grocery lists! Using a social network to record your food choices is a way to keep focused and share ideas. If you decide to utilize Facebook for this purpose, I would advise limiting your food journal to one update a day. I think Twitter offers a better format for this purpose, but connect with whatever network you use regularly.
  • Substitute soy cheese for dairy cheese. If I'm making an omelette, nothing but real cheese will do. Melted on a sandwich, soy cheese is favorable option. As much as I enjoy cheese, even with being able to limit myself to a serving, I don't need to eat it every day. 

I had a good holiday. I continued with my healthy diet and exercise program I lost two pounds over the past two weeks, which brings the total to 23 pounds down since September 1st. I feel like all the weight and resistance training is the equivalent of an interior designer coming into my apartment and rearranging all the furniture in the most aesthetic way possible. I am also appreciating the gains in strength and flexibility. I am going to conquer those push up variations!

I hope you all had a great holiday. Are you making New Year's Resolutions for 2012?

Happy painting, ladies!

Health and Whimsy is intended as a journal of my personal experience. Please consult your doctor before making changes to your health regimen.