Favorite Things – Kayla Itsines BBG

This morning was an odd morning because I actually got up early.

I turned over to see my alarm clock and, sure enough, it was 5:45 am and I actually wanted to get up.

Now, I’m anything but a morning person, however, I’ve just started Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and I absolutely love it!

Kayla Itsines

Beast mode, right here. (picture from Kayla Itsines’ Instagram)

While I think the title of the guide could be a bit less cliché and Suzanne Somers via the 1980s, the exercises she has you do feel so good.

Okay, so obvs they don’t feel good while you’re doing them, because when you’re on your second circuit, you almost want to roll over, curl up and give up, but after you’re done, you feel that good burn.

The kind of burn that lets you know that you -capital W- Worked out your muscles and is giving you toned arms, killer abs and a Kim K bootayyyy.

I’ve only been doing these workouts for the past week, so I don’t have major results yet, but I do love how I’m feeling.

Her guides are a bit pricey, but if you follow her on Instagram, she sometimes does mini workout vids like the one below or if you go to her website, you can get a free 7-day workout guide.

I know you’ll want to go grab this guide ASAP though; she’s awesome and you’re going to love the extra boost you get after you’ve got a good sweat going.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!!

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Meh…It’s Monday

It’s Monday and I couldn’t be more thrilled, as shown by the picture below.

IMG_1411

Okay, so maybe that was a lie. Whatever. I’m over it.

That’s my mood today. I’ve decided that I’m hiding out in my cube until 5pm with my Starbucks iced soy chai and Hozier’s album on repeat for comfort purposes to deal with my “meh” mood.

But, with every song, I can feel my mood lift because I’m lost in his gritty and raw acoustic style too much to even worry about my “meh” mood.

At first listen to the Irish singer songwriter, you’re drawn in by his acoustic, coffee-shop and maybe a bit sultry vibe. But then, you start to actually listen to his lyrics and they’re nothing short of poetic.

In songs like “Angel of Small Death and Codeine Scene,” you’re like, “I have no idea what in the hell he’s singing about, but I love it.”

And in “Someone New” you’re like, “damn this kid has some catchy tunes on his hands and I could give a shit less if my cube neighbors see me dancing.”

And with “Cherry Wine” you’re like, “let’s just sit on a blanket underneath a shady tree and nap for the rest of the afternoon.”

Seriously, each one of his songs brings you into a new mood.

If you’re in a “meh” mood, take a listen to a couple of his songs, or the whole damn album, and feel yourself being slowly lifted up out of it.

Works for me, at least.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – Charleston Shoe Company

Hey peeps!

I hope your weekends were as lovely as you all are, and even if they weren’t, it’s a new week that will eventually turn into a weekend, so you can try again. You know, the sun’ll come out tomorrow and all that jazz.

Anywho, I realized I haven’t done a Favorite Thing in quite some time, so now is as good of a time as any!

My favorite thing this week are my Charleston shoes from the small, but oh-so adorable Charleston Shoe Company.

Harbor in nude (L) and Telfair in black (R)

Seriously, y’all, these shoes are my favorite. I love that I’ve finally found comfortable heels and I love all the compliments I get while wearing them.

They’re at a bit of a steeper price tag ($100-$150), but they’re totally worth every penny. The shoes are not only comfortable, but they come in just about every color and pattern and heel height.

I like to think of them as my ‘training heels.’ You know how you have training bras for the little tweeny boppers to help them gradually build up to the actual bras? Well, I feel like these were the perfect training heels because I used to be all about the flats and couldn’t walk in heels worth a damn. I looked about as solid on my heels as a newborn calf trying to stand up and walk for the first time.

Then I was strolling down King Street in Charleston and found Charleston Shoe Company. My first pair were the nude wedges pictured and they’re still my favorite shoes two years later.

Once I put these heels though, I felt like the sexiest woman who ever put on a pair of shoes. I could strut with the best of them and give Carrie Bradshaw a run for her money.

Another fun fact is that they don’t have all the colors and patterns on their website, for the sheer fact that it would be too many options, but if you get into contact with them, they can find and custom make the shoes of your desires.

Seriously, go get yourself a pair. If you love your feet for all the kick ass things they do for you–walking, running, being the endposts to your beautiful legs, do yourself a favor and get them comfortable and adorable footwear.

I do send my deepest apologies to your bank accounts though. 🙂

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – Target Finds

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from my grandma asking me to join her on her vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Of course I said, “YES!!” So now I’m busy getting things ready for when I head down to the sand and sun.

I usually spend whatever I need to on makeup because I don’t like to question quality, but that means that I can’t spend as much on other things. Enter: Target.

While it’s almost impossible to just “make a quick run” to Target and only come out with exactly what you went in for, I don’t mind because I’ve found some of my best products there and on the cheap too. #winning

1. Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Oinment, $4.99

I absolutely SWEAR by Aquaphor for any place on your body that’s dry and cracked. I hate to go all infomercial on you, but I really don’t go anywhere without a travel size or regular tube of this stuff and it’s a must-have for everyone. aquaphor

Most people use it for their heels before bed and put socks on overnight so that you wake up in the morning with soft skin.

However, I use it on my lips the most. It only takes a tiny bit to make them super smooth and is perfectly glossy, so I put it on after my lipstick in the morning and then reappply throughout the day.

2. Banana Boat Aloe Aftersun Lotion, $4.99

I plan on being in the sun for as long as I can every day on the island because I’ve just about had it with cold winter weather. While doing this, I will not only need my 30 SPF sun screen, but will also need something to put on afterwards. The Banana Boat Aloe Aftersun Lotion is what I always grab for.BB after sun

If I’m a little red after I come inside or even just as a daily lotion for my legs and arms, I always love to put on this stuff. It’s not too heavy, but you put it on and it feels like you’ve got a good layer of moisture on sun-soaked skin. I don’t know about it’s ability to “extend my tan” but, then again, I don’t really worry about my tan because tanning isn’t good for you anyway. And that’s my PSA of the day. You’re welcome.

3. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product, $14.39 (4oz)

Now, I’m not usually one to brag about my hair because usually it’s a frizzy mess, but seriously, people have actually been noticing it for how healthy it looks ever since I started using this product about a month ago. I almost want to do one of those sexy, slow-motion hair flips when I enter rooms, but I refrain. 😉

its a 10

What’s so cool about this is that it’s not really a liquid spray. It looks more like a sprayable lotion that you put on damp hair and comb through. Now, I know the idea of spraying lotion on your hair sounds like it would make it greasy or weighed down, but it doesn’t! I have really light blonde hair (thanks to my colorist and her mad highlighting abilities) so I feel like my hair is just dryer than most and this stuff really helps.

Not only does it help with frizz, but it’s also a heat protectant and helps with humidity too. So for South Carolina weather, I’m sure it will be a huge help.

Even though it’s a bit pricey for just 4oz of product, I’ve still got plenty left and I’m not planning on running out for another month or so.

4. Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets, $4.99

Last, but not least, I will definitely make sure that I bring a couple packs of the Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets because you never know when you’ll need them. I don’t really want to wear any makeup while I’m on the island, so these will be great for just blotting away any shininess I may have, allowing me to stick to the sans makeup plan…but I make no promises about using Instagram filters. 🙂

oil blotting

These sheets are also perfect for taking the shine away from your T-zone and everywhere on your face without smearing or ruining your makeup. I usually don’t leave home without these in my tote because they’re perfect for providing makeup free touch-ups to your face.

Now, go forth, shop and beautify!! 🙂

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – Men & Coffee

Happy St. Patrick’s Day all!!

In the spirit of feeling lucky, I thought I would share my favorite thing for this week. And that is: Men and Coffee.

No, I’m not talking about the actual pairing of men and coffee, although, that’s good too. I’m talking about this Instagram account (menandcoffee) posting the deadly combination daily and, I promise you, it’s totally worth a follow. I’m usually against ogling people, but c’mon…men AND coffee? Is there any better pairing? The answer is: probably, but this is still up there on the list.

Enjoy the daily dose of luck:

Coffee 1 Coffee 3Coffee 2

Go forth and seize the day and maybe a little coffee too. 🙂

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – Empire

This fall and winter I’ve binged on some pretty great new shows that have me absolutely hooked, but there is one that stands out above the rest, and that show is Empire. 

empire

This show…this show is amazingly good. I knew I was hooked about 15 minutes into the pilot and it came as no surprise to me after I read the credits and saw that Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) and Danny Strong (The Butler, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1) are the show’s creators and Timbaland is the musical director and songwriter.

Empire is the story of music mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and his struggle to keep ahold of his own life battling a fatal illness and needing to pick an heir for his music/entertainment company.

Of course, the story would be all too boring if there wasn’t a huge wrench thrown into the mix. That wrench is one firey, soulful woman: Lucious’s ex-wife, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson). In the pilot she is just released from 17 years in prison for drug dealing. However, PLOT TWIST!, she only went to prison because she was protecting Lucious, their three sons and the music company they had just started with $400,000 of drug money Cookie had procured.

While Cookie was away, Luscious wasted no time in becoming a hit artist and music mogul, while also raising their three sons. You better believe that the Lyon family has its fair-share of problems, all stemming from Lucious’s thug turned musical success story.

The eldest son, Andre (Trai Byers), is the most educated of the family, but is not seen as CEO material because he is not musically gifted and Lucious believes that the next leader of Empire Entertainment should be an artist, not a businessman.

The middle son, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), is probably the most musically gifted of the three brothers, but he is openly gay and Luscious is a homophob to the highest degree. After Cookie is released, she becomes Jamal’s new manager because she knows Luscious won’t do anything to help his music career because of his lack of compassion and understanding for Jamal.

The youngest son, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray) is probably the most frustrating of the bunch. His youngest-child syndrome is in full swing as he believes he is unreachable and invincible with his father’s money and his great talent as a rapper.

The struggle amongst all of the characters for Luscious’s empire and love is what makes this family competition so interesting to watch.

With Empire’s ensemble cast and catchy tunes, I don’t recommend missing an episode. Although, you definitely won’t want to.  As an added bonus, the all black main cast brings some much needed diversity into primetime television. I’m excited to see what’s next for this amazing, must-watch show.

Empire airs on FOX at 9/8c and is also available on Hulu.

Start watching the fight in the Lyon’s den and until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – Box of Chocolates

Welp, it’s Monday. I’m barely functioning for some odd reason, but I’ll blame it on the remaining yuckiness from the sinus and eye infection from hell that I had all last week.

Feeling a bit better this week, I think I’ll make up for not posting a “favorite things” post last week. I mean, I very well could have done a “favorite things” post last week, but I doubt anyone would want to know how much I was obsessed with my chilled sterile saline eye wash and its awesomeness.

So now I’ve got a multitude of things to rave about! And, to quote one of my favorite movies, “…it’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

First up: Laura Mercier Translucent Powder. PowderHoly buckets, do I love this stuff. For the longest time I would leave for work in the morning thinking that I looked like the hottest thing God put on the planet, but then I’d get to about lunch time, go in the bathroom, look at myself in the mirror and wonder what hole I crawled out of.

I just felt like my makeup never stayed put where it was supposed to be. I would be oily and my eyeliner would be all sorts of wrong. So I went into my neighborhood Sephora and had a lovely chat with an associate. She told me to try this translucent powder.

I tried it the next day and BAM! My makeup stayed the whole day so I didn’t look like a trainwreck by 3pm. It’s got a bit of a price tag on it ($37), but everyone deserves a splurge once in a while.

Second favorite thing: Lemon Sorbet

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Okay, so I know that this is probably one of the most basic things you can have for dessert, but I just rediscovered it while ordering it at a small Italian cafe this past weekend and I loved it for an after-dinner refresher. Plus, look at the cute presentation! I’m definitely going to try to make my own because it looks pretty simple. But obviously, since I’ve just said that, it totally won’t be. Stay tuned for my trial run…

Third favorite thing: The Imitation Game

imitation

Oh. My. God. This was such a good movie!! I was a bit upset that it didn’t win Best Picture last night at the Oscars, but I’ll get over it somehow. Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley were absolutely amazing in the film about how one man help shorten World War II by almost two years and saved millions of lives. How this movie and knowledge has not been pushed out through the media (after the information was de-classified) is beyond me, but discussing the media’s agenda is a whole different blog post.

The Imitation Game‘s numerous story arcs were all woven together masterfully and the messages from the film were very strong and relatable. I would give it five stars; it was a truly amazing film and y’all should definitely put it on your must watch lists.

forrest

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – TriggerPoint GRID STK Foam Roller

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a runner who’s trying to make her way past an injury. My orthopedic surgeon has ruled it a fascial tear or bruise in my lower leg and says that I should take it easy and run very little, if at all.

Doc said that if I do run a little bit (less than a mile), ice and Ibuprofen would help with the pain afterwards. But I wanted to do more to ensure that I can come back fully from this injury and start training for a marathon again, so I did some research on how to help along the process a bit.

Reading through this article I foam rollerfound in Running Times and other subsequent articles, I’ve found that foam rollers can not only be used for muscle pain but can also help relieve fascial tension as well. Enter: TriggerPoint’s GRID STK Foam Roller ($34.99). I absolutely love this little thing because I can easily give my lower legs a great massage before and after workouts, leaving me with a lot less pain to deal with.

It’s so easy to use because it’s easy to grip and you can use it in more places on your body than you can with regular foam rollers. Not only do I mainly use it on my lower legs, but I also use it on my neck, back, thighs, calves and feet.

How to use the GRID STK:

You can use it in any multitude of ways and different ways can be found on the TriggerPoint educational videos page. I use mine by focusing on two areas of my lower leg. I work the outer part of my lower leg muscle, not the top where I can feel the bone.The first section that I workout starts right above the ankle and ends at the midpoint of my lower leg. The second starts at the midpoint of my lower leg and ends right below my knee.

IMG_0420To get the most out of my foam roller while I’m massaging the outer muscles of my lower leg, I follow these steps:

1. Sit on the floor with your legs resting flat on the ground. Bring your foot up so that you’re making an “L” shape with your leg + foot and your toes are pointing upwards.

2. Hold the foam roller firmly to your leg and roll upwards on the first section between your ankle and the midpoint of your lower leg.  At the same time, stretch your foot forward so that your toes are now pointed out in front of you.

3. If you find a knot or trigger point (a spot where it’s tender to press down on) you can hold your foam roller on it and leave it there while kneading out the spot for a good 20-30 seconds to try to work out the trigger point.

4. Repeat 4-5 times and then rest for a minute or so.

5. Repeat the same set of motions 1-3 for the second section of your leg and then again on your other leg.

The GRID STK is really the best foam roller I’ve used and is now a part of my running/workout routine. It’s definitely worth a try if you’re feeling tension and pain while you run or workout.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – Aveda foot relief moisturizing creme

Getting back into running has been so great for me with helping raise my energy levels and feeling way less stressed, but it takes a toll on my body for sure, especially my feet. Working out means that I will usually shower twice a day, so I lose a lot of the moisture in my skin. Of course I have great lotion for my face and body, but I couldn’t find a moisturizer that would replenish moisture on my feet for the longest time.

So after complaining about this problem to my mom –Avedabecause you always have to complain to your mom since 9 times out of 10, she’ll know how to fix the problem- and she suggested that I try Aveda’s foot relief moisturizing creme. I thought this would just be one of those creams that only helped on the surface for a whole five minutes until you eventually had to reapply it again, but it’s really the best hydrating lotion I’ve used.

I don’t want to go all info-mercial on you, but in just a couple of days, my feet made a complete 180 and had no dry spots anywhere. The lotion is creamy, but not heavy and it smells so amazing, which isn’t unlike any other Aveda product. However, it does have a larger price tag, starting at $9.50 for the travel size and $24.00 for the normal size, but it’s one of those lotions that’s always in my gym bag and totally worth every penny. The way I look at it, if I don’t take care of my feet, running becomes a lot more difficult to do.

Also, if you end up loving the foot relief creme, they also have hand relief creme that does amazing wonders for your hands too. You can order them both online or stop by your neighborhood Aveda store and the associates there will get you hooked up.

Happy running and until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – 30 Second Dance Parties

It doesn’t matter if you had the best weekend ever or you had the worst – today it’s Monday and you need to put a little spring in your step. So, I introduce to you the 30 Second Dance Party.

For whatever you’re feeling, dance. I repeat: Dance. It. Out.

Being human is all about the experiences you go through and the feelings those experiences bring. The best way to experience all of those feelings – good, bad or in between – is to dance. You don’t have to be a professional or even any kind of good. That’s the beauty of the 30 Second Dance Party. You just move in whatever way you’re feeling.

Do the lawn mower or the shopping cart or maybe even breakdance, although, I take no responsibilities for the injuries you may or may not obtain while trying.  You can always go with the move I learned freshman year from a friend of just jumping around to the beat. The point is to get up, feel your body move and smile. Above all, you’re goal is to smile by the end of it.

Life is going to throw every curveball at you, and you just have to learn when to take a moment, collect your thoughts and dance it out. It’s like pressing pause for just a brief period of time in order to be silly and be you with no pressure. I used to dance it out all the time in college when the never-ending stream of exams, papers and projects all seemed too much, and it was probably one of the most valuable life lessons I learned in those four years.

In case you don’t have a go-to 30 Second Dance Party song, here are some of my current favorites to dance around my kitchen to whenever I feel a little too tied down and stressed:

  • House Party, Sam Hunt
  • One Week, Barenaked Ladies
  • All You Had To Do Was Stay, Taylor Swift
  • I Won’t Be Left, Tegan and Sara
  • Somewhere In My Car, Keith Urban
  • Pompeii, Bastille
  • $8 Beer, Them Coulee Boys
  • We Are Tonight, Billy Currington
  • I Lived, One Republic
  • Really Don’t Care, Demi Lovato feat. Cher Lloyd
  • Countdown, Beyoncé
  • Happy, Pharrell Williams
  • Shake It Off, Taylor Swift

Now you may be thinking, “I’ve already got a fool-proof way to get rid of stress and feel happy, but thanks!” And to that I say that there should be no shortage of ways to make yourself happy, so why not try it? Even if your 30 Second Dance Party turns into 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter. It’s your party, so dance how you want to for however long you want.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel some epic air guitar playing coming on during “Free Bird.” And, the guitar solo, aka everyone’s favorite part, starts in around the 4:30 minute mark –you’re welcome.

Always remember to keep dancing and until next time,

C. Brooks