Archives for December 2012

December 31, 2012

Plan For the New Year With “Our Skinny”…The Tastiest and Easiest Way to Weight Loss

It’s that time of year when we are all trying to shed a few holiday pounds. Let me say right now that I am not a diet expert!  I don’t even like using the word diet, I prefer “eating program” or “weight loss program”. I do however, find myself being an expert on trying different eating programs. What I found out is this, it all boils down to exercise. I have to exercise every day and count every calorie in order to lose or maintain my weight.

In the meantime, we all have to feed our bodies and there are many ways to go about this. I have recently tried something new and its an eating program that I enjoyed thoroughly and found extremely easy to follow, it’s called Our Skinny and with the new year starting I think “Our Skinny, The Easiest Diet Ever” is worth trying.

Our Skinny was created by Dr. Paul Bradley and a team of Registered Dietitians at Ourlife Health in Savannah, Georgia.  Their goal is to help men and women with weight problems, lead healthier lives. With obesity rates on the rise in the United States, health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer and sleep apnea are also on the rise. Dr. Bradley and his team created Our Skinny, “The Easiest Diet Ever” and it really is the easiest diet ever. Our Skinny is very easy to follow and at their website you can learn all the details on their weight loss program and order your delicious shakes and bars which will be your meal replacements for as long as you plan on using it. You will definitely be on your way to a new and healthier you.

In a nutshell, Our Skinny allows you 4 shakes a day starting at breakfast and drinking a shake every 2 or 3 hours. Add to that 1 delicious snack bar of your choice as well as 1 main meal consisting of vegetables, protein and a healthy fat. That’s it!  You will have 6 meals a day and you will feel completely satisfied between meals.

Our Skinny has 6 delicious shakes to choose from The shakes have between 70 and 100 calories and contain 15 grams of protein which is enough protein to keep you satisfied throughout the day. They are really delicious and I found them to be extremely satisfying without any bad after taste like some protein drinks can can leave you with.

The snack bars are equally delicious, with 6 varieties to choose from,, they will replace one meal. Our Skinny comes with a complete easy to follow program guide with a journal to keep track of your meal intake and water. It is so easy to follow. Once you order your shakes and bars from Our Skinny, you will also be entitled to a free consultation by phone or email at no extra cost to you.

What I like most about Our Skinny is the fact that you don’t have to commit to a full 5 meal replacement program. You can enjoy the products and still lose weight or use the protein shakes and bars to maintain your weight. You can substitute one meal or two meals a day if you choose.  The 15 gram protein bars and shakes offer great energy boosts and are also fantastic meal replacements. So whether you choose to use Our Skinny as your complete weight loss program or just use it partially, you will be heading down a path to a new you this NEW YEAR. Remember, Our Skinny, The easiest Diet Ever!




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December 30, 2012

Getting Your Back End in Great Shape for 2013

Great exercises for the Booty with Alicia Marie’s “The Booty Bible”booty-bible-page-head
The Booty Bible is written by fitness expert Alicia Marie. In addition to being a fitness model, Alicia Marie is also a nutritionist and has graced numerous fitness covers worldwide including Oxygen Magazine, Fitness X , and other popular fitness magazines.
Alicia is the  founder of Cardio World which is a mini series that gives advice in a fun way on fitness. It can be found on her hip website ” FITPOP” which  also presents pop culture, and fashion along with the fitness and health advice.Donna & Alicia Marie Ballenger2_face0

I found the practical application of the exercises provided  in The Booty Bible to be straightforward and effective,  there being three different levels of booty workouts that are presented. First,  Alicia shows beginners simple but cogent movements, then explains to the readers the intermediate movements in a clear and uncomplicated way. Later she tells her readers how to work up to the advanced exercises, such as “dead lifts”.
Additionally, she provides expert advice about the right nutrition to help aid in the growth of the ultimate booty.I give the book a ten for its straightforward and effective advice. It is a must for a great back end. For more information on this book go to:

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December 29, 2012

Add a Little Sparkle to Your New Year!

Well, here we are at the end of another year and a new one about to begin.  I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by.  Funny, my mom warned me when I was a little girl that the older I got, the faster time would seem to pass!

So, what will you be doing on New Year’s Eve?  I’m usually not too jazzed on the idea of attending big parties,but I’ve been invited to a great one in the Hollywood Hills this year that sound a little too good to miss!  I’m sure it will be one of those events where everyone there will look absolutely amazing!

Personally, before heading out to a fabulous event like this, I like to make a trip to my favorite spa for a little extra pampering.  A great massage, manicure, and pedicure are always on my list of “musts” before a special event.  But, if you really want to “glow” on New Year’s Eve or any other special occasion, you’ve got to got to go for the gold….24 Karat gold, that is!

On my last trip to Raya European Day Spa, my wonderful esthetician Suzanne convinced me to try a their 24K pure gold facial .  Yes, real gold!  I was a little skeptical, but I figured “why not?”.

After doing a little research I found out that gold has actually been used in beauty treatments for thousands of years, back to the days of Cleopatra. Apparently gold is filled with antioxidants and so it’s great in any anti-aging skin care regime.  Basically, antioxidants prevent skin damage and also help to heal previous damage to your skin by shedding damaged skin cells and promoting healthy, new skin cell growth. According to many experts and Suzanne, who has been in the beauty business for more than 30 years, there are more antioxidants in gold than in any other beauty product ingredient.

So, this was the process:  After my regular facial, she applied several 24K gold leaf sheets to my face, applied a little steam and then massaged my face until the gold was absorbed into my skin.

At first it was a little weird, but I have to admit I did feel “sparkly” afterwards and will definitely be getting one of these again!

Now, if your favorite spa doesn’t offer this treatment, another great option is to use Prana Spaceuticals AU 24K GOLD Serum, which contains 24 K gold flakes.  I featured it on a recent beauty segment for “Your Carolina with Jack and Kimberly” and have been using it as part of my nightly beauty ritual for the past two weeks. It does a fantastic job of smoothing and plumping the skin especially around the eyes, lips and neck area and seems to get rid of redness too.

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year!


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December 28, 2012

Trends of the New Year 2013

As 2012 winds down, jump into the New Year in style.  Fashion is constantly involving, giving you the opportunity to spice up your daily apparel, get immensely creative and invent a new self for 2013.  And with the post holiday sales about to commence, what would be a better time to give your wardrobe a facelift?  Listed below are a few suggestions for stepping into a new year with a sexier-than-ever self.   Cheers!


Hottest trends for 2013:


The power suit: swanky and sleek women’s suits will take off next year, and we will be seeing a surplus of a feminine yet powerful collection of female suits.womans suit


Suit shorts: Playing on the above, taking the suit and slashing the pants mid-thigh will be an ultra hit this coming season.  It’s a powerful yet mega sexy twist on the traditional suit.


Simple contrast: black and white contrast will be huge.  Color block, stripes, loud patterns will be showcased in timeless and sophisticated black and white.

donna wt pants ct


Ruffles: yes, the ruffles will be back again, but this year we will see deep ruffled necklines, edgy and distressed slits and all around bolder styles.


Bermuda shorts: The knee-length short is more feminine than ever, with flattering cuts, girly patterns and lustrous materials.  For those that have been on the fence about these modern shorts, this will be the perfect season to dive in.


Stripes, stripes, stripes:  Whether in a contrasting black and white or bold color, stripes will be a must-have come the New Year.  This simple yet fierce pattern makes a statement, and bonus, it’s also slimming.


Peek-A-Boo: This fun and flirty style of dress will be in full force next year, giving the ladies a sweet yet slightly edgy style for a date, cocktail party or night on the town.


The low heel:  A feminine daytime option for every chic woman, the girly low heel is a perfect complement for any casual yet stylish ensemble.  Sport them for brunch with your lover or happy hour with the girls.



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December 28, 2012

First Aid Beauty is FAB-ulous!


First Aid Beauty’s new Ultra Repair Moisturizer is the ultimate Hydration for a fab-ulous face!  I love this facial moisturizer.  It is perfect for you if you have dry, itchy or super sensitive skin that can not tolerate parabens, lanolin, fragrances or artificial dyes.  Its very light weight and sinks into your skin quickly adding hydration with a soft finish. My mineral makeup went on flawlessly when using this moisturizer. Natural botanicals like Licorice root, Feverfew and White tea deliver a healthy dose of antioxidants to combat free radicals. Colloida oatmeal, shea butter, avocado and meadowfoam seed oil tops off this fantastic daily moisturizer.

First Aid Beauty’s new Ultra Repair Moisturizer can be purchased at and 

Guest Post by Crystal Price


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December 27, 2012

Morning Glamour is a Touch of Class

Who has not woken up in the morning to find their hair standing in every which way and/or visible creases on their faces which are noticeable for a couple of hours into the day. Studies have been shown, that both these problems can be eased simply by switching from cotton pillow cases to satin ones.  Morning Glamour does just that! Morning Glamour is two standard satin pillowcases which improves our appearance just by sleeping on them.  If you think about it, it is true……Cotton fabric is an abrasive material.

It may feel warm and cozy, but it is a highly absorbent material that draws moisture from our skin and hair as we sleep. We don’t need our pillowcase stealing the moisture from our skin and hair!! Whether you are a light sleeper or a heavy one, repeated action on the cotton pillowcase during the night, can cause hair to tangle and break which is a result of spit ends or hair loss!  Cotton fabric ruffles the cuticles of the hair and makes hair frizzy, especially if you have curly hair as I do.  The same repeated action can irritate skin and cause our ever less elastic skin to crease.  Morning Glamour allows your face and head to move easily on the pillowcase, avoiding the friction and damage caused by cotton.

Satin is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Morning Glamour not only has these wonderful benefits to improve your appearance and avoid damages but sleeping on satin is the ultimate comfort and luxury not only for the wealthy. Your bed will feel inviting and enjoyable. Morning Glamour is a touch of class and will relax you so you will be able to get a good night’s sleep.  The Morning Glamour pillowcases have a stay-put pocket design which keeps the pillow in place while you sleep. Sleep your way to a wrinkle free face and healthy hair just by switching your pillowcase to Morning Glamour!!!!!!
Morning Glamour pillow cases come in 6 different colors and patterns

Guest post by Laurie Carcieri

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December 25, 2012

Last Minute Holiday Survival

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December 25, 2012

My Interview with Celebrity Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Amanda Schackleton

Amanda Schackleton exemplifies the true meaning of a consummate Beauty Expert! Not only is she a seasoned professional makeup up artist, but an extraordinary hair stylist as well! What a plus in this business to be able to develop and excel in both the worlds of hair and makeup! That dual ability really gives Amanda a unique edge in the industry, as she is hired “equally” for makeup and hair assignments!

Meet Celebrity Makeup Artist and HairStylist ~ Amanda Schackleton:

Amanda is a New York gal, but was actually educated in makeup artistry and hair styling in London, England for five years, where she also worked professionally.

I like Amanda’s style and technique! We share similar philosophies, and I believe that they always bring out the best in a person’s look and are really timeless.

Quoting from Amanda’s Biography :
” When it comes to makeup application, Amanda’s style can be described as modern and super clean, with a strong focus on the eyes and lashes. Working with all age ranges, Amanda creates something that is wearable and adapts the eyes to the occasion, and what the client is personally comfortable with.

For hair, Amanda specializes in styling, particularly for red carpet and updos. Inspired by classic imagery such old Hollywood glamour, she is able to add a twist to make the hair current and on trend.”

Quite the entrepreneur, Amanda also has a company in New York called
NY Bridal Beauty
where she adapts the latest looks to compliment each Bride’s special day!

Amanda Schackleton’s NY Bridal Beauty
Visit this website for more information:

To top it off, Amanda founded the “The Media Makeup Academy” in 2009. There is nothing more gracious than to share your ability and success by providing an opportunity to teach and empower aspiring makeup artists to be able learn this wonderful trade in a professional manner with self confidence ! The Media Makeup Academy now has two locations. One is in Chicago and the other in New York!

(Quote)”Students complete 40 hours of intensive and more affordable training and the course acts as an “How-To” guide for the industry. Led by qualified makeup artists that are currently working in the industry, the teachers share their professional experiences of working with both clients and on set. Students are guided through the course and leave with a fully developed skill set and images for their portfolios.”

If becoming a professional makeup artist has always been your dream, I highly recommend that you check out:

Make that dream become a reality!

My Interview with Celebrity Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist, Amanda Shackleton:

VICKI :It’s truly a pleasure to interview you Amanda. As a well recognized celebrity makeup and hairstylist in the industry, what was your inspiration to become involved in the beauty business?
AMANDA: My inspiration to be in the beauty industry wasn’t something that I even realized until I was 21. I have always loved fashion and grew up in an artistic household (my Dad was an artist), so I was comfortable painting with him in his studio from a young age. I was in college for physical therapy in the Mid West and being from NY, I had a different fashion sense than most of my friends. They would always end up in my room on the weekends asking me to do their hair and make up, and ask to borrow clothes to wear. It was actually my parents who suggested I would be better at an art school, so when I moved to London with my Mum and Dad at age 20, I went to school for both hair & make u and that’s how it began. London offered so much creative inspiration for me.

VICKI : We both have an appreciation for the timeless and classic look of “Old Hollywood”! Would you be able to share a few hints with our readers on how they might transition their look into a more classic ageless look of that Glamorous “Era” gone by?
AMANDA : Transitioning your look to Hollywood glam is much easier than you think. People get intimidated and think its a hard look to pull off, but really its very simple. My best suggestion is to watch the old Hollywood films and see how the women wore their hair and make up.

I love old school hot rollers, they heat up quickly and once you have set your hair, you can go ahead and do your make up. I suggest keeping a lighter eye and emphasizing your brows and lips. Don’t forget to practice putting on false eyelashes, they do not have to be big and obvious, just cut a small set in half and practice applying them to the outer corners of your eyes. This will make all the difference in your make up look.

Then go back and pull out your rollers, give your hair a spray and run your fingers through your hair in the direction you would like the curls to go. They should be bouncier and not too brushed out, so just keep practicing!!

VICKI: You founded the Media Makeup Academy that is now in two locations ~ Chicago and New York. What qualities do you believe a person who wants to get into a career in the makeup artistry profession needs to possess?
AMANDA: Founding Media Make Up Academy has always been a dream of mine so when I began teaching I always tell my students tenacity is a key quality to make it in the industry. All of my students dream of working with magazines and celebrities but its a long road and you cannot get deterred.There’s a lot of competition and rejection but if you keep practicing and networking while building your portfolio, you will eventually get there.

VICKI: A bride’s special day is so important and can end up being a rather stressful day after all of the pre planning for her wedding. Your company NY Bridal Beauty sounds like a perfect solution. What is your main objective as you prepare a bride for her special day?
AMANDA: When I opened NY Bridal Beauty my main objective was to bring high end hair and make up services to brides in their homes and hotels so they didn’t have the extra stress of running to a salon. We set up a trial and do numerous looks about 6-9 months in advance so we can get the style down perfectly.Trials are pretty intense and we do a lot of work, so once the bride trusts my aesthetic and what we have done it makes her wedding day a little less stressful.

VICKI: What’s trending for brides with hair and makeup looks, right now?
AMANDA: I’ve noticed a definite change in styles I am being asked to do for my brides.Without a doubt we are trending back to über feminine hair styles with a vintage vibe. Brides are also looking up to celebrities at award shows so the hair and make up is more “red carpet” than the traditional bridal looks of the past.

VICKI: With the Holiday’s right around the corner could you share a few ideas about creating a look that will have them on the “cutting fashion” edge for their upcoming events and New Year’s Eve Parties?
AMANDA: Fashion changes so much so I would suggest finding a current look and making it your own.I would concentrate on either your hair or make up and make a statement with it. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it fits your look and style and you feel like yourself. I’m seeing a lot of vintage inspired hair combs and barrettes right now and I think they are a great way to add a little dazzle to your holiday hair.

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful answers to my questions. They were exceptional, and sharing your time with us has been so appreciated and enjoyed. I’ve learned so much and I know the readers will be thrilled with all of your wonderful hints and techniques. Let your “Magic” continue, Amanda, and all the best to you in 2013!

In closing, I want to make sure you visit Amanda’s website:

Amanda’s many years of hard work and dedication have awarded her with numerous credits, here are just a few:

Magazines: Glamour, Modern Bride, Vogue, Oprah and more!

Ad Campaigns: Levi Strauss, Avon, XoXo Clothing, and more!

Celebrities : Pierce Brosnon, Katie Courick, Ricky Martin, Harrison Ford, Sara Michelle Geller, and more!

Visit Amanda’s website (above) for more information about Amanda and additions credits !

(Quotes and paraphrased information & photos obtained from PR-Biography, press information, websites and images provided to me. Credit for interview questions: Vicki L. Fischer)

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December 24, 2012

Last minute holiday survival with Deb Berry

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December 23, 2012

A wonderful conversation with New York Times bestselling author Ellyn Spragins who has written an online booklet as part of the DePuy Orthopaedics campaign to educate people about joint health and Osteoarthritis!

It’s always a pleasure to talk with New York Times Best Selling Author, Ellyn Spragins.

Ellyn’s ability to inspire others to “go back in time and write letters to their younger selves” during difficult periods in their current lives, assists them to go inward and glean answers from what they know now that helps them to become aware of different choices and approaches that they may have overlooked in earlier years. In turn, they begin to move forward in the “present”, and get on the right track to persevere in a more positive direction which is simply amazing!

ELLYN SPRAGINS: Author of What I Know Now:Letters To My Younger Self

DePuy Orthopaedics,Inc., (Quote) “teamed up with Ellyn to write a new booklet on “joint health” in 2012 , together with medical contributions from Dr. Steven Barnett , a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with a practice specializing in Joint Replacement and Adult Reconstructive Surgery for arthritic conditions. The new booklet is a collection of letters from men and women who have struggled with osteoarthritis, and shares the wisdom of people who wish they had known then what they know now about joint replacement surgery.”

This is a free online booklet entitled, Had I Known Then…Letters of Self Reflection From Those whose lives Were Changed by Joint replacement !

Do you or someone you know suffer from osteoarthritis? Here is the link to Ellyn’s booklet where you can read the personal “letters” of the participants with osteoarthritis who had joint replacement! There is also a lot of helpful information for you to peruse in this free online booklet!
Go to :

Are you aware that:
(Quote) “Osteoarthritis” is the most common form of arthritis and is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage, which causes the bones to rub against each other, leading to stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement.”
•(Quote) “It’s estimated that one out of every five people in the U.S. has some form of arthritis!”

This is really an “eye opening” fact! (Quote) “Two-thirds of the people who have been diagnosed with arthritis are under the age of 65.”

Along with my conversation with Ellyn, I was so fortunate to be able to speak with one of the participants, Diane Hughes, whose letter appears in the booklet. Diane Hughes is a Manhattan based Nurse.

I’ll paraphrase our casual conversations as I spoke with Ellyn and Diane as they were being driven to a location for more interviews. I was curious about Ellyn’s new internet booklet with DePuy , and the letters that were written by patients with osteoarthritis who had gone through their joint replacement procedures.

Ellen was very positive with the results of the letters that had been written, and mentioned that it’s a process that works very well with men and women! When writing these letters, people are not only expressing past buried emotions, but finding out that there are often so many physical issues that they may experience in their “outer self” that are not acknowledged, but surface as they write. They then realize they are not alone, and things are not “as much” of a kept secret. Connecting with others via the letters is a great source of “sharing” and can be very cathartic. We closed as Ellen mentioned that sometimes it takes a story with a “touching point” that a person can relate to that opens them up!

Diane Hughes-Nurse
Diane’s Letter to herself- “You’ll walk without pain. Without Swelling. Without burning.”

Diane Hughes is a nursing supervisor for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Palliative Care in New York City, and such a congenial and sharing person to talk with. You can tell her patients must really adore her as you feel right “at home” with Diane the minute you hear her voice.

Diane, in hindsight, relayed that she was a “handicapped” person since she was thirteen. She really enjoyed athletics, but had an injury on an amusement park ride at an early age, and then tore ligaments playing basketball in high school. After that, it seemed that knee issues started restricting Diane’s life. As a surgical intensive care nurse, Diane, on her feet 10 hours a day, endured such swelling and pain that she had to resort to crutches and find a different job. When living in Colorado she was unable to ski, and when residing in California she had to give up hiking. There was no doubt that Diane needed a knee replacement. She wanted a DePuy knee for the flexibility, and in 2005 she had her complete knee replacement. Her whole life changed and in two weeks Diane oriented for her current Visiting Nurse position in Manhattan. Diane’s Doctor would tell her to walk “one more block each day”, and she did!

Diane’s advice about “writing the letter to herself”? (Quote) “DON’T WAIT! Rehab isn’t easy but don’t put it off! There is NO need to suffer!”

On going success Diane!

I said goodbye to Ellyn and Diane and really looked forward to sharing this message. The online booklet, “Had I Known Then…Letters of Self Reflection From Those whose lives Were Changed by Joint replacement” reaches out with a lot of good advice regarding osteoarthritis, and information from those who have gone through the process that has brought positive changes into their lives.

May it be helpful to you or someone in your life who is needlessly suffering from joint pain.

(Quotes and paraphrased from provided PR fact sheets with information regarding DePuy Orthopaedics,Inc., Osteoarthritis, Joint Pain, and sources including:Arthritis Foundation. Osteoarthritis Fact Sheet. Accessed August, 2011. Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Prevalence: A Nation in Pain. Accessed August, 2011. American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Total Knee Replacement – Your Orthopaedic
Connection. Accessed August, 2011.)


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