Category Archives: Lovely Peeps That Inspire Me

Music Inspiration: M. Ward, She & Him

Ahh, listening to the music from M. Ward puts me such a relaxed and dreamy state. Matthew Ward is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from Oregon whose talent is effortless and innate.

My husband Neil introduced me to his music a few years ago and I have been hooked ever since. Last year we went to a show at The Vic and I was blown away by this man’s talent. He was on stage pounding his piano and jamming his guitar with such soul and passion – it made my heart pump with (musical) excitement.

His song Rave On (featuring Zooey Deschanel) from the Post War album makes me want to grab my kids or my husband and dance around the house.  When I listen the songs Rollercoaster and To Go Home, it mentally transports me back to 2006 when we were listening to his music and figuring out life with a newborn (Stella).

Now M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel collaborated again and came out with another upbeat record for their band She & Him.

Check it out!  It’s lovely.


Dump The Frump – Part 1

Part of finding innerpeace, for me, is feeling good about the way I look. My parents taught me to always look chic. Sure I’ve had my awkward days; but putting thought into clothes, skin, hair and body has been important to me. Lately, this importance of style has taken a back seat to the ever demanding responsibilities of momhood. The past couple of weeks I found myself running around in the frumpiest outfits, sans makeup and hair in a pony. What has gotten into me?!!? That’s when I decided to call in the expert, Whitney of Fauxshionable, who shopped my closet and brought back the confidence in my wardrobe. This girl has style and a winning personality to match. She has graciously offered her input on essentials to look our best this season. Ladies, it’s time to ‘Dump the Frump!’

Whitney’s words and inspiration:

Spring is a season of change. The earth wakes up from its winter slumber and is reborn. Why shouldn’t your wardrobe do the same? This spring, dump your frumpy clothes and add in bright, versatile basics. Mommy’s deserve to be beautiful and comfortable in their clothes. Here are some great options to achieve just that.

trench coat
skinny jeans
comfy, stylish flats with support
long cardigans
headbands and scarves
belted dresses
bright, chunky jewelry
floral accessories and prints

Get inspired by the collages and enjoy shopping!

If you are interested in getting your closet shopped, check her out at She’s in the know on where to go for the best deals in town. Oh yeah, she can help your guy too!

Green Tip: Get together with friends and relatives and have a swap party!

Stay tuned for the next installment!

The Power of Intention

image from Neil-Krug photography
“It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized. ” Wayne Dyer

Dr. Wayne Dyer is one of the biggest reasons why I think the way I do today. If it wasn’t for him my views on life, my energy, and my thought process would be way different. If you know me, you know how highly I think of this man…I used to talk about his books nonstop. I stumbled upon him in 2004 when I randomly picked up his audio book Power of Intention at a bookstore. Listening to him lit the flame under my ass and helped me realize that I cannot let my EGO get the best of me. Because of Dyer, I became interested in learning more about Buddhism, Hinduism, the Bahai Faith, different thoughts on spirituality, karma, reincarnation, and the way I carry my own energy. Emerging myself into this frame of thought really opened up a lot of doors for me and I feel much happier and mentally stronger. What a life changing book. -AM

“A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe.” Wayne Dyer

So What Inspires You?

                                                                      Art work by Esther Aarts

People get inspired by different things.  I get inspired by Art (both creating and appreciating) and organization (a skill that I aspire to have).  My husband gets inspired by music, my sister – vintage fashion.

For some, sources of inspiration come from nature, photography, recycling, sex, exercise, children, traveling, reading, helping others and the list goes on.

Most times we feel inspired, but I think these days, more than ever, people are feeling less than inspired with the holidays behind us and chilly weather on the horizon for the next few months.  Why not dump these uninspired feelings and start finding or reconnecting with what makes us HAPPY?

What inspires you?  What gives you that “excited” feeling?  Is it your family? Your partner in life? Your job? It could be anything that makes your life feel purposeful and really pumped to be alive.

On the media side of things, it’s an easy time to get the encouragement.  Magazines, TV and a plethora of books are front and center with tips to help you “lose weight”, “detoxify your body”, “get organized”, “get connected with your family”, etc.  Let’s ride on this encouragement to find that something that inspires you and let’s feed it with love, hard work and happiness.

Please share your stories!  Would love to hear what inspires you.

Eco-Friendly Tip Of The Day

This tip is from my sister-in-law Lisa who is very environmentally conscious!  Btw, that’s not her in the pic, that’s Meg!

When your plastic shower liner gets soap scum or mold on it, instead of throwing it away, wash it in the washer with a large bath towel and hot water. The towel acts as a scrub brush to get all the icky stuff off.  If the liner needs softening up after the wash, throw it in the dryer for 3 minutes-but don’t forget about it or it will melt!

Thanks for sharing, Lisa!!!  If you have any tips you would like to share, please email them to!

Water Bottles, sippy cups, perfume, OH MY!

photo courtesy of Jill

This is a guest post from health advocate, Christen Black.  Christen has been promoting and using safe products for herself and family for years.  Below she talks about the hidden dangers of the everyday products we use.
Why should we be concerned about BPA and Phthalates?
I don’t know about you but I never used to care about what I put ON my body as much as what I put IN my body.  Even when it came to what I put IN my body, I was naïve to think that eating “healthy” was enough.  I was so carefree about what I drank out of or what I heated my food in.  I spent so much time and money on cute clothes and my hair but not enough on the really important things that could affect my health and wellness and that of my family’s.

This changed a couple of years ago, after I had my daughter and after my family was touched by 2 cancer diagnoses within a week apart.  I became very interested in learning about “toxic” chemicals and other “things” that were known to cause cancer.  This interest eventually turned into my starting a business that helps people stay healthy.

First of all,  I want to state that I am by no means an expert on BPA or phthalates, but I am hoping that what I do know will help even a few people out there.  Unfortunately, BPA and Phthalates are everywhere and it would be almost impossible to avoid them completely (yet).  Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an estrogen-like chemical used in many polycarbonate plastics, canned-goods, and recycled paper products. Phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastics, such as toys, and are also widely used in personal care products such as nail polish, shampoo, body wash and lotion.

Even though our government still contends that these chemicals are safe for us, both of these chemicals are hormone disruptors and there’s enough research showing their link to cancer, diabetes, and early term pregnancies, to name a few.  We have started to avoid certain products with BPA, like baby bottles and water bottles, but we are very behind with phthalates.  Phthalates are becoming more controversial as more scientific research associates them with hormonal disturbances such as reduced testosterone in babies and adults.  If you have a boy you should be even more wary of these chemicals.  I would highly recommend Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax, who talks about the severity of phthalates.  Dr. Mehmet Oz says, “Boys Adrift is a must-read for any parent of boys. This is real science, and Dr. Sax thoroughly uncovers the important health issues that parents of boys need to be tuned into.”

Phthalates are present in so many things we apply on our body and yet it’s so hard to know because they are often hidden under another ingredient like fragrance or perfume.   The good news is that there are companies now that produce products that are phthalate-free.

The bottom line is that we need to be more educated and take matters into our own hands when it comes to taking care of our health.  Don’t assume that things are safe if they are on the market.  We also must put more pressure on our government to take action and ban the use of these harmful chemicals.

Christen Black

Check out a list of items that are BPA and phthalate free (particularly for babies and children).

If you are interested in finding out what’s in your personal care products or interested in making steps towards toxic and chemical free personal care products, check out this site.

What?! A six pack without doing a single crunch? Sign me up!!!

During a Pilates session a few weeks back, my instructor, Angela, mentioned that it was possible to get a six pack without doing a single sit-up.  I thought that was crazy and too good to be true.  Angela kindly offered this circuit to help YOU get that strong core you have always wanted.  This is how you do it:

6 Abdominal Exercises for a Shredded Core
by Angela M. Carini, Certified Pilates Instructor

Here are 6 effective exercises you can do at home without equipment and without ever doing a single crunch! They will shred your core, strengthen your upper and lower body and burn body fat. For maximum results do the circuit listed below at least 3 times a week.

Do each exercise for 30 seconds without any rest between exercises. If this is too challenging for you allow yourself to rest in increments of 15 seconds and then challenge yourself by gradually lessening the time in between exercises. Repeat this circuit 3 times, resting for 30 seconds to a minute in between circuits. To make the circuit more difficult do not rest at all in between the circuits!

1. Plank
Get into push up position on hands and toes, or on elbows and toes. Contract your abdominal muscles (and core). Keep your back straight (don’t collapse in the middle) and hold this position for as long as you can.

2. Mountain Climbers
Start on your hands and knees and get into in a sprinter’s start position. Keep your hands on the ground and push off with your feet so you alternate foor placement (run in place) as long as you can. Be sure to keep your back straight, not arched.

3. Squat Thrusts
Stand with feet together. Squat down and place your hands on the floor next to your feet. In an explosive movement, jump feet backwards into a push-up position, jump feet back between hands and stand up.

We took a video of this move but I wasn’t able to upload it.  If you need a visual, think Burpee from high school gym class-haha…sounds funny, but it’s a tough one!

4. Side Plank
Lie on your left side. Place your forearm in front of you onto the mat. Position yourself so that only the forearm of your left hand plus the left side of your hips and legs are in contact with the floor. Position your other hand either palm down onto the mat in front of you or behind your head. Maintain good core body posture and balance by first using your right hand as leverage on the mat. Set your left leg directly atop the other. Brace the abdominals.

5. Push-ups
Begin in push up position, on knees or toes. Perform 4 push ups, abs in and back straight. On the 5th push up, lower halfway down and hold for 4 counts. Push back up and repeat the series.

6. Cross Body Mountain Climbers
Start on your hands and knees and get into in a sprinter’s start position. Brace your abdominals as you bring your right knee forwards and across the body towards the left elbow or armpit, keeping the foot close to the ground, but don’t allow it to touch the floor. Extend the leg back to the start position and repeat on the opposite side.

Angela has a unique gift of helping people transform their bodies into lean muscle machines (I’m still working on mine!)  She’s tough but she truly cares about her clients.  I have been impressed and inspired by her since I took up Pilates a couple years ago.  She’s the real deal!  If you live in the Chicagoland area and would like to have a session with her, check out her website to get her contact info.  If you are interested in taking a class, she instructs a HeartCore class on Tuesday evenings at 7pm, Thursday evenings at 6pm and Saturday mornings at 10am at UrbanCore Pilates & Fitness.  They are hard but SO WORTH IT!  If you can’t make it, copy and paste this circuit onto a word document, print it, and DO IT!  After you start seeing results you will be happy you did!

Angela M. Carini, B.S., AOBTA CP, PMA-CPT has over 10 years of experience in the fields of dance, bodywork, and mind-body fitness. She holds a Bachelors in Dance from Northwestern University and is a Certified Pilates Instructor through the Pilates Method Alliance. Angela is also an AOBTA Certified Shiatsu Practitioner and Instructor and has taught Shiatsu at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and Zen Shiatsu Chicago. She has authored a popular beginning level Shiatsu video entitled The Art of Shiatsu.

Visit Angela online at

Passing Judgement

I’m currently reading a great book that I borrowed from my daughter’s school, “The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents” by Deepak Chopra. The book is quite enjoyable and eye opening. One part I found particularly interesting was about teaching our children not to pass judgment on others. Passing judgment is a common practice for a lot of people, but it brings nothing but negativity back to our own lives.

A great way to teach our children not to judge others is by example. Let’s all try to go one day without making negative remarks about others. I must include Chopra’s words with this post. They are beautiful, simple and inspiring.

“Passing judgement is not part of a spiritual person’s approach to life. We all project negativity onto other people, but we do this because we confuse our emotional reactions with reality. If people make us angry, distressed, afraid and so on, we feel that this negativity is their responsibility. Spiritually, the Law of Pure Potentiality tells us that no one can be labeled or judged because life is all possibilities; everything is inside ourselves. Nothing in our nature can be created or destroyed by someone “out there.” The very person who makes you angry or afraid can have the opposite effect on someone else. So it is worth setting aside some time to see everyone in the light of love, to hold no judgement, to call no one bad or wrong.”