Try this Family Activity….the Stream Scramble

Believe it or not, spring is finally (officially) upon us. We are seeing longer days, bright sunshine, and signs that the giant mounds of snow are starting to recede.

After a long winter of staying inside, the spring is a perfect time to reconnect with nature by taking a hike. Scrambling up by a stream will provide some added bonuses–the soothing sound of rushing water, beautiful scenery, and–if you got a lot of snow this winter–a chance to see a memorable winter melt.

Here are some tips on stream scrambling from the book “100 Family Adventures,” by the Meek Family  (Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella Meek).

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Scrambling up a stream valley feels like a really rugged adventure that offers challenge, risk and usually stunning views that get better the higher you climb.

The ideas is simply to find a mountain or hill stream and walk against the flow towards the upland source, sticking as close to you can to the water at all times. The lower, flatter sections will be gentle and relaxing, but as the journey progresses, the scramble over rocks and boulders will become more challenging and exhilarating.

As with most family adventures, as long as there are no specific time restrictions, don’t rush; take your time and look back regularly to take in the views. A casual pace will ensure careful foot placement and reduce the chance of unwanted trips and falls.

This adventure activity, by its very nature, involves some danger and risk–obviously the more difficult the route, such as a steep gradient, rocky or slippery terrain, the greater the risk. For this reason, if you are taking young adventurers out stream scrambling, it is sensible to do a ‘recce’ (reconnaissance) beforehand to ensure the level of challenge is appropriate.

Any successful scrambles you complete can be revisited when the conditions are cold and snowy. The difficulty level will be upped, of course. So bear that in mind, but so too will the sense of achievement and reward.


  • Ensure all scramblers have sturdy and supportive footwear, ideally boots
  • Plan your route carefully beforehand using a suitable map. Use the internet to research proposed routes
  • Turn back if you find the difficulty level is beyond the weakest member of the group
  • Always have a suitable map with you in case you have to abort the challenge and find an alternate route
  • ‘Spot’ youngsters on steep sections (this involves standing behind them with arms outstretched in the air, ready to provide assistance should a slip or fall occur)

100FamilyAdventures100 FAMILY ADVENTURES

Childhood obesity is increasing year on year. Happiness and well-being levels in children are on the decline too. Children spend less time outside and more time in front of screens: computers, phones, games, television.

100 Family Adventures provides a valuable resource bank of tried and tested outdoor activities to enjoy with children, swapping ‘screen time’ for ‘green time’. Particularly inspiring for people who want to get started, but don’t know how, the book shows how any family, anywhere in the country, can enjoy time together outdoors.

Activities are grouped into themes: Woodland, Water, Close to Home, Hills and Mountains, Exploring, By the Sea, Extreme Weather. Within each section is a range in difficulty, from making a rope swing to scrambling up a stream, from spending a day without electricity to going on a charity bike ride, from exploring a rockpool to camping on an uninhabited island.

Packed with inspiring photos, sensible but enthusiastic instructions from parents Tim and Kerry combine with remarks and advice (and jokes!) from children Amy and Ella.

Do You Have Burning Questions About Blush? Our Makeup Expert Has the Answers….

Finding the right combination of makeup for your skin tone and face shape can make all the difference. When makeup is working for you, it is your secret weapon, but too much or the wrong application, and it ends up calling attention to itself and can actually detract from your overall appearance.

In this excerpt from his book, Makeup Makeovers Beauty Bible, makeup artist-to-the-stars Robert Jones answers some common concerns about blush and provides tips for fixing them.

Q. I have tried everything: creme, powder and liquid blush. Nothing stays on–my skin seems to absorb it all. What can I do to keep color on my face?

  1. You can increase the wearability and intensity of your color by layering your blush. Layering blush textures helps the color last all day.
  2. Dust your face with loose or pressed powder
  3. Apply a powder blush (similar in color to the creme blush) to the apples of your cheeks and cheekbones

Q. I have very dry skin, and when I wear powder blush, it seems to just sit on top of my skin. It never seems to look natural. What can I do?

For very dry skin, a creme or gel blush is a much better choice than powder. It is more moisturizing, lasts longer, and looks more natural. Creme and gel blushes actually blend into dry skin, whereas powder just sits on top. Remember, when using a creme or gel, to apply it after foundation and before you powder (and if you have dry skin, you will be using very little powder), or it will not go on evenly.

Q. Whenever I wear blush, I feel it’s all you can see; it never looks natural. What am I doing wrong? How can I make it look more natural?

A: First, be sure you have the correct shade. If you are using a shade that is too dark or intense, it will be hard to apply your brush so that it looks natural. Remember to choose a shade that mimics your natural flush (or pinch your cheeks to see the color you need), no darker. You can use a bright, sheer color but never really a dark shade; blush is meant to add color and life to the face, not make it look dark and muddy. Also, be sure you are putting it where it belongs; blush in the wrong place can look unnatural. Lastly, if you have applied your blush and it appears too intense, simply brush loose or pressed facial powder over the color, to mute it and help blend it in.

Want to learn more? Here is a 10-minute makeup tutorial with Robert Jones!


Forget extreme makeovers! Robert Jones, makeup artist extraordinaire, outlines step-by-step how even the ugliest duckling can become a swan—with makeup alone! In hundreds of awe-inspiring before-and-after photos, Robert makes it easy for any woman to achieve true beauty in this book, which has become the definitive encyclopedia on the subject. Unlike most makeup books that focus on celebrities or the already-glamorous, this book shows every woman how to be her most beautiful. No matter what your age, skin tone, or profile, Robert can show you simple techniques that camouflage flaws and highlight each woman’s unique beauty. Best of all, it’s EASY! Even if you’ve never worn makeup before, you can learn how to bring out your best in just a few minutes.

This stunning book is also a full-color guide to applying wedding makeup, with countless stunning before-and-after pictures of regular women throughout. It is highly instructional and does not just show model perfect women, instead it focuses on the girl next door, your best friend and you. Every woman can be beautiful on her wedding day, no matter what her age or ethnic background, with Robert’s makeup techniques. It features special makeup techniques for morning, midday, afternoon and evening weddings; because with each time of day you will photograph differently and as we all know one of the most important things to think about is how you will photograph. There are also chapters on more makeup tricks for wedding photos, and, of course, makeup for bridesmaids and matrons of honor.

Shoulder Tap Plank

Looking to Up Your Plank Game? Try This Shoulder Tap Exercise

So how did you do on your core stress test? We tried this tough variation on the traditional plank from Jennifer DeCurtins’ book “Ultimate Plank Fitness,” and found that while it is relatively easy to lift one arm and tap your shoulder, the true challenge comes with doing it as a smooth, controlled motion where you maintain balance throughout. (Our first attempts were more of a frantic lift-and-tap before toppling over).

It is definitely a good way to build upper body strength, control and balance, however.

Shoulder Tap Plank

In the shoulder tap plank, you lift one arm to tap the opposite shoulder, then return to the full plank position.


MODIFICATION: Can be performed on knees (to make it easier)

In this variation of a full plank, you alternate lifting one arm and tapping the opposite shoulder. This is an advanced variation that requires a ton of stability and body control.


  • Get into a full plank with a straight body position from your head to your heels with your shoulders stacked over your wrists
  • Lift one hand and tap the opposite shoulder; repeat on the other side
  • Make it easier to maintain square hips and a straight body position throughout the movement by placing your feet slightly wider than your hips


  • Sagging lower back
  • Bent elbows on the grounded arm
  • Butt lifted higher than head or heels

PAYOFF: Dynamic body control


A safe, challenging, and effective method of core conditioning, planking is one of the best ways to get fit and toned. Variations of planks are used across many fitness domains including traditional group exercise, personal training, home workouts, yoga, pilates, barre, CrossFit and more. Not only are planks perfect for crafting six-pack abs, they also target shoulders, pectorals, biceps, triceps, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. They increase the heart rate, offer calorie-busting cardio exercise, and create healthy muscle tone.

Ultimate Plank Fitness features 100 different variations of planks that can be used to customize your workout. Easily increase the difficulty of your core strengthening exercises by adding stability balls, gliders, and weights. Each exercise includes a step-by-step photo demonstration, points of performance, where to engage, along with common faults to detect ways to improve your fitness. Finally, CrossFit coach, personal trainer, and fitness instructor, Jennifer DeCurtins provides you with ten 5-minute workouts incorporating several planks that you can use to target trouble areas and build strength.

With countless variations of the exercise, ranging from traditional planks to side plank variations and planks using external weights or unstable surfaces, your entire workout can be programmed around the plank! Work your way to a healthy core with Ultimate Plank Fitness.


Need a Vegan Snack? Here’s a Tasty, Protein-Powered Green Spread for Dipping or Sandwiches

If you are living a vegan lifestyle, it takes a little more work to ensure that you have vegan-friendly snacks around whenever you get the urge to nibble. You can’t just duck out to the corner convenience store to pick up some something quick without doing a lot of ingredient-reading. As featured in The Great Vegan Protein Book, here is a great recipe for a protein-powered green spread that you can whip up and keep on hand whenever the snack bug bites.



Fresh herbs add a bounty of flavor to this silken tofu and avocado dip. It’s a quick way to get a protein fix in an unexpected place: as a vegetable or chip dip. Try it spread on sandwiches, too.


  • 12 ounces (340 g) extra-firm silken tofu
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 cup (100 g) chopped scallion
  • 1 cup (160 g) chopped onion
  • ¼ cup (60 ml ) fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (11 g) nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (24 g) chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons (6 g) chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (20 g) packed fresh baby arugula

Yield: 2½ cups (740 g) dip, or 10 servings
Protein content per serving: 4 g

Combine the tofu, avocados, scallion, onion, lemon juice, garlic, and nutritional yeast in a small blender or food processor. Process until smooth.

Add the dill, chives, salt, agave, mustard, hot sauce, and pepper. Process until smooth. Add the arugula and pulse a few times to chop.

Let sit for 1 hour for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve with toasted baguette slices or raw vegetables.

Recipe Notes

  • For a tortilla chip dip, substitute minced fresh cilantro for the dill and use lime juice instead of lemon juice.
  • If desired, this recipe is easily halved.



“How do you get your protein?” As a vegan, you’re sure to get asked this question often. Most likely, you’ve even thought about it yourself. Vegan protein comes from things like tofu and tempeh, to beans, nuts, and protein-rich whole grains like quinoa. There are loads of options out there, but how to prepare them? What to put them in? These are questions that can feel daunting, especially if you haven’t used these ingredients before. Never fear, Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes to the rescue! The Great Vegan Protein Book takes you step-by-step through each protein-rich vegan food group, providing you with valuable information on how to prepare the ingredient along with more than one hundred delicious and easy recipes (many of them low-fat, soy free, and gluten-free!). Each recipe uses whole food ingredients that can be easily found at most grocery stores or farmer’s markets-no hard-to-find ingredients or things you can’t pronounce. Say yes to protein and eating better with The Great Vegan Protein Book!

Energy Packed Equinox, Solar Eclipse, and a New Moon in Pisces

Luc Viatour /

This week is bursting with celestial energy. First there is the Vernal Equinox which brings about spring and a sort of balance. Then we have a total solar eclipse, and finally a new moon in Pisces. So what does all this mean for you during this time? April Elliott Kent, author of the upcoming Astrological Transits and owner of Big Sky Astrology, has quite a few wonderful articles explaining what this current state of cosmic energy means for you. Check out two great articles that she wrote over on her site:



Let’s take a peek into the upcoming book by April to help you follow the moon and become more aware of how celestial events affect you and others.


How to Follow the Moon

Because the Moon moves quickly, whipping through a sign of the zodiac in two and a half days, tracking its aspects to the natal chart—even its location in the houses of the horoscope—is not all that useful. Yes, if you look back at crucial moments in your life and cast a horoscope for them, you’ll probably see that the Moon was making interesting aspects to your birth chart. But most of us simply don’t have the time to track all of those aspects on a daily basis.

What I have found helpful is keeping track of the Moon’s current phase, its current sign, and the aspects it will make to other transiting planets on a given day. Taken together, these paint a picture of the day’s mood, and the most productive way to plan your day and your month.

astrological transits 1

Lunar Phases

The monthly lunar cycle is as familiar as a mother’s face, beginning at the dark of the New Moon, waxing toward its First Quarter, reaching its zenith with a fully illuminated Full Moon, and waning toward its Last Quarter. Each of these points in the Moon’s monthly cycle offers a particular opportunity for developing self-awareness and taking action.


New Moon (Transiting Sun and Moon in the same sign)

This is the quiet, dark time of the month. Something new is coming, but you can’t see it yet. Energy is building, but it hasn’t quite taken hold. Seeds are being planted, but evidence of their growth is weeks away.

This is one of the most powerful times of the month for performing magic. It’s common practice at this time of the lunar cycle to set intentions based on the New Moon’s sign and use some kind of ritual to affirm those intentions.


First Quarter (Transiting Moon square the Transiting Sun)

At the First Quarter phase, about one week after the New Moon, a bit of the Moon is visible early in the night sky. Symbolically, the light is beginning to dawn for you, as well. The road forward becomes a little clearer; you’re more energetic, even feisty. What was hidden from you at the New Moon is rising up now, into your consciousness. You know what needs to be done, and you have the energy and will to do it.


Full Moon (Transiting Moon opposed the Transiting Sun)

About two weeks into the lunar cycle, the Full Moon illuminates the night sky. If you wished, you could go outside and work through the night without any other light source. You now can see exactly what has been blocking your progress in the area of life represented by the New Moon’s sign and house. This is the best phase for releasing what is no longer working.


Last Quarter (Transiting Moon square the Transiting Sun)

Three weeks after the New Moon, the Last Quarter Moon is visible late in the evening. Once again, as at the First Quarter, you are energized, ready to adapt, and prepared to make a final push to achieve your goals.




Your birth chart is a snapshot of the sky taken at the moment and place of your birth, one that reflects your character, personality, strengths, and challenges. But the moment after that picture was taken, the planets moved on some quickly, some very slowly. Astrologers call the moving planets “transits,” and by comparing their movements to your birth chart you can gain a complete view of how best to prepare for challenges, meet opportunities, and stay grounded in a constantly-changing world.

In Astrological Transits, astrology expert April Elliott Kent will guide you through the best ways to make the most of your birth chart. Learn how to make the most of good transits and harness and transform the energy of “bad” ones. You’ll also understand planetary cycles and anticipate your own transits. Finally, you’ll know how to read planetary return charts, work with planetary retrogrades, and use eclipses to recognize major patterns and turning points in your life.

If you are comfortable reading a birth chart, you are ready to move your chart into the future using transits. Instructions, tables, and worksheets will make tracking your transit cycles simple and exciting!

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Take This Core Stress Test!

Maybe you’ve been working really hard for the past few months to get yourself into shape. Maybe you’re just trying to check in to see how strong you’ve gotten. Or maybe this is your first step toward a stronger body. Whatever the reason, we’re sharing this really useful Core Stress Test from Core Fitness Solution. In case you missed it, we’ve posted all about the basic plank and it’s numerous variations here, so be sure to check out that post first.

The Test

As you can see from the chart that follows, the test is broken down into timed intervals. You are not to rest between intervals or performance levels. This is a running clock test. We suggest a training partner time you, or that you follow your own progress on a device placed between your fists.

Each interval is a specific form of the plank and the further you get into the test, the better your core strength, endurance, and stability.

Where you’ve placed on the chart dictates where you should begin your training in this book. If you’ve fallen in the Beginner or Intermediate sections, you should start your exercises with the beginner’s tips. If you’re in the Average or Advanced sections, perform the moves pictured and described in each chapter. If you’ve scored in the Superior or Elite sections, challenge yourself with the advanced tips.

core fitness solution - core stress test

We recommend coming back to this test every 30 days so you can measure your progress in your core performance training.


Order your copy of Core Fitness Solution by Michael de Medeiros and Kendall Wood today!

Core Fitness Solution

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The promise of building a six-pack is found in many places–Results, however, are not. With Core Fitness Solution,those results are finally attainable. With more than 5,000 customizable solutions in this book, you pick the exercises. You decide the workout, the location, the duration and the intensity. Finally, a leaner middle, a stronger core, and the set of abs you’ve always wanted can be yours. Former editor-in-chief of Men’s Fitness, Michael de Medeiros, and “King of Abs,” Kendall Wood, have handpicked the most effective exercises to target all areas of your midsection. Crafting your core has never been so simple.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and What Can I Do To Counteract It?

Leaky gut syndrome is about as unpleasant as the name would suggest. But we’re here to help.

As this excerpt from Judita Wignall’s new book “Raw and Simple Detox,” explains, Leaky Gut syndrome can arise from a variety of factors, including poor diet, excess yeast and inflammation caused by gluten. It can also wreak havoc by causing a variety of unpleasant conditions from constipation to acne to brain fog.

The good news is that if you take steps to correct your diet and change your eating habits, you may be able to negate the effects of this syndrome —and feel more healthy and energetic as a result.


Image of the digestive tract courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Leaky gut syndrome is terminology used to describe permeable intestines. When the intestinal lining becomes porous, undigested food molecules, yeast, pathogens, toxins, and other types of waste can flow freely into the bloodstream.

This can cause diarrhea, chronic constipation, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, rosacea, multiple sclerosis, and lupus, impaired immune function, nutritional deficiency, skin conditions like eczema and acne, as well as headaches, fatigue, and brain fog.


Poor diet. Genetically modified and chemically laden processed foods full of trans fats, refined sugar, preservatives, and artificial colorings can create inflammation in the gut and throughout the body.

Candida. This yeast thrives off sugar. When it gets out of hand, it grows tentacles that burrow into the intestinal lining, perforating it and allowing matter to get through.

Wheat gluten. It’s not only people who suffer from celiac disease who need to avoid gluten. Gut inflammation occurs in about 80 percent of the population due to the proteins gliadin and glutenin, which cause intestinal cells to die prematurely.

These proteins are found in wheat, semolina, spelt, Kamut, rye, and barley. Some cultivars of oats and quinoa can also create a gut inflammation. (I know, I know. I can practically hear your hearts breaking right now.)

Medication. Medicines like aspirin and acetaminophen decrease the mucosal lining of the intestines.


If you suspect you have leaky gut, try adding L-glutamine, digestive enzymes, vitamin D3, zinc, and a good-quality fish oil, along with probiotics and dietary and lifestyle changes to your daily regimen to help restore gut integrity. I recommend the book “Clean Gut” by Dr. Alejandro Junger for a more in-depth look on how to heal the gut.

RawandSimpleDetoxRaw & Simple Detox is a guide to help you detoxify your body with simple, nourishing foods. Get your detox started with information on how to set up your kitchen, raw food techniques, and lifestyle advice. Then, use the 100 recipes included to improve your health, energy, immune system, memory, and digestion. Shopping lists, meal plans, and menus are included to help you easily plan meals and combine recipes for maximum effect. Whether you want to go on a day-long, multiple-day, or week-long cleanse, or add detoxifying meals to your regular diet, Raw & Simple Detox will help you reset your eating habits and live a healthier life!

Judita Wignall is a raw and natural foods chef and integrative nutrition health coach from Los Angeles, California. A former commercial actress, model and musician, she discovered the healing power of raw foods after health challenges made her reassess her diet and lifestyle. She left the entrainment industry to follow her passion for great-tasting food, holistic health, and wellness. She’s a graduate of the Living Light Culinary Institute, Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Rouxbe Cooking School. In between her many creative projects, she continues to run her online health boutique, teach classes, host retreats, and coach clients around the country. Learn more at