Treat yourself to a Relaxing
Spa Experience

A good spa can address emotional, physical and spiritual needs and leave you feeling uplifted and stress free. Stress affects your emotional and physical well-being and can impact your appearance, so a day at a spa is just what the doctor ordered to sooth mind, body and spirit.

The best spas offer clean surroundings, professional, courteous and friendly staff, and prominent display of their credentials. Before choosing a spa, compare prices and ask about their qualifications and experience level.

Spas cater to all budgets so you are sure to find one that is right for you. Some offer facials, massages, foot scrubs, manicures and pedicures, while others also offer specialized bodywork, body wraps, etc.

Basic spa treatments include the following services.

• Therapeutic massage – this is soothing and relaxing and provides many health benefits.

• Facials – this involves deep cleansing of the face, skin analysis, massage, toning, moisturizing and extraction, which is the removal of impurities such as blackheads.

• Body treatments – this involves cleansing the body by exfoliating with a body scrub or salt glow to remove dead layers of skin, which results in very soft skin and a refreshed feeling.

• Body scrubs - these are usually supplemented with a hydrating or detoxifying body wrap. Algae, seaweed or mud products are used to detoxify as they increase blood circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system, which improves your body's ability to release waste products. An oil or rich cream is then applied to hydrate the skin and make it glow.

• Spa manicures, pedicures and foot scrubs

When you arrive at the spa, do observe spa etiquette.

• Switch off your mobile phone.

• Massage is generally done nude but the parts of the body that are not being massaged will be covered.

• Be respectful of other customers if you have to share the space with them.

• If you have any problems speak to the manager.

• Remember to tip 15-20 percent of the cost of the treatment.

• Arrive 20 minutes before to allow time to prepare for the treatment.

Treat yourself to a spa today! You deserve it!



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10 Tips to Help You Stop Smoking

Learning how to stop smoking and conquer the urge to smoke is an uphill struggle, but with the right tips and strategies you can succeed.

Consider these facts: A smoker who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day can inhale as much as half a cup of tar each year. And just 72 hours after your last cigarette, your body will have flushed out 100% of the nicotine through your urine. Nicotine urges also peak and begin to subside within 72 hours. Within this period, your lung capacity will start to improve and breathing will be easier. Within two weeks after you stop smoking your body will adjust to the lack of nicotine and cope without the cocktail of chemicals.

The following 10 tips will help you on your journey.

Tip No. 1 - You need a good reason to quit. Constantly remind yourself what that reason is. Maybe someone close died of lung cancer, or you hate the smell of smoke in your hair. Whatever the reason, keep reminding yourself that smoking is no longer acceptable to you.

Tip No. 2 - Look for small rewards. Small rewards can give you a boost as you make progress. Buy yourself small gifts to the value of the total saving made as a result of not buying cigarettes. This is a great motivator to keep you on target.

Tip No. 3 - Plan your quitting strategy. Be specific: decide the process you will use and, if necessary, the time limit, and stick to it. If you have not succeeded by the deadline, work on a new plan.

Tip No. 4 - Work on the stress triggers. If you are smoking due to stressful things in your life, try to deal with those issues as best you can before you attempt to quit, but don’t let that be an excuse to keep smoking indefinitely.

Tip No. 5 - Give yourself a penalty for backsliding. If you generally stop at Starbucks each day for a latte you might want to consider skipping that treat on days when you have fallen short of your goal. Make sure the thing you forfeit is something you enjoy.

Tip No. 6 - Seek the support of friends and family. You will need support when trying to quit. Seeking the support of love ones and friends will ensure that they are sensitive to the issues and will avoid situations that trigger the need for a cigarette. The most important thing is not to be alone during the process.

Tip No. 7 - Get someone to quit with you. If someone is quitting with you, they can hold you accountable for your progress. Also, rivalry is a great motivator.

Tip No. 8 - Get plenty of sleep. If you are not getting the rest you need, you are more likely to be cranky, upset and angry with the world. You are more likely to reach for a cigarette when in that state of mind.

Tip No. 9 - Aim to quit for good. This might seem a bit strange, but if you are just planning to quit for a weekend you are not going to put much effort into the process.

Tip No. 10 - Take your mind off cigarettes. If you are always thinking about cigarettes you will be tempted to smoke. Reading a book, exercising, surfing the internet and even cooking are all great ways to occupy your mind.

Good Luck!




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Causes of Obesity

The incidence of obesity is now epidemic, and the causes of obesity are many and varied. While many people would like to shed 5-10 pounds, there are many more who have a considerably greater task before them. Look at the number of diet programs, all promising to give you the svelte figure you desire. From high protein, low carb, and on to high fiber, there are no shortage of diet programs; however, looking at statistics, the success rate is low.

The most practical solution may lie in determining the root causes of obesity. Let's look at the best solutions for tackling the problem. Obesity can be a medical or psychological problem. If the standard charts indicate that you are obese, making an appointment with your physician is a good first step, to rule out some of the common causes of obesity. Possible causes include a thyroid imbalance, excessive water retention (associated with menstrual cycles), the onset of menopause, or a heart condition.

It's important to realize that measurements of obesity, using the standard weight-height charts, can be misleading. For example, one famous basketball star, skinny as a rail, was deemed 'obese' simply because his large bone structure and muscle mass made up a greater proportion of his overall weight than the average person. This is an exceptional case of labelling an individual obese.

This is why it's important to consult your doctor, who can run tests to rule out a medical condition. If you have a thyroid imbalance, there are medications which can correct the imbalance. Be sure to ask for a referral to an endocrinologist, as the tests are complicated and require the interpretation of a qualified specialist.

Naturally, your doctor will probably also inquire as to your diet habits, the most common of causes of obesity. If your diet is high in simple carbs, sugar and fatty foods, this may be a prescription for obesity. If you have reached a point where you need to lose 50 pounds or so to attain a healthy weight, simple dietary changes may be all you need. “Simple!!?”, you say! Many a dieter considers such dietary changes to be next to impossible. Well, Rome wasn't made in a day, and so it is with a healthy diet.

Overeating and consuming the wrong kinds of food remains a common cause of obesity. Slowly easing off on the 'comfort' foods, like sweets, simple carbs and fatty foods should reap rewards. Give yourself a once-a-week treat to look forward to, while increasing your consumption of lean meats and veggies.

Weigh yourself just once a week and keep an honest log of your treats. Drink lots of water. Several studies have demonstrated that simply increasing your water consumption helps you lose weight by slightly increasing your metabolic rate and hydrating your body, helping to flush waste and accumulated toxins. It teaches your body not to retain water for vital liver and kidney functions.

As for psychological causes of obesity, you may also be over-eating to fill a subconscious psychological need. Talk to your doctor to determine if this might be a factor in your case. While the causes of obesity are many, there is a solution to your individual case. Once the cause, or causes, are determined, follow up. You can change your life forever.



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10 Online Dating Tips to Keep You Safe

Online dating is always a risky business so be careful when investing your time, money and emotions - people are not always who they say they are. Do your homework first and check the internet for the latest on internet dating scams.

The following tips will help you avoid online dating pitfalls but, as always, the key is to trust your instincts!

1. Set up a separate email account. Begin by setting up a free email account at www.yahoo.com, www.gmail.com, or www.hotmail.com. Use a password that is difficult to guest. Personal email addresses often contain personal details, like a surname. Be sure to choose an email address that gives nothing away about you.

2. Choose your profile name carefully. Avoid creating a profile name that gives clues about who you are or where you are from. And avoid revealing too much personal information when filling in your personal profile, as this is usually visible to the public.

3. Keep your identity secret. Never give anyone personal information such as your full name, address, phone number or personal email address. Be wary of anyone who insists on asking for this type of information early on in the friendship. Remember that you are in control so you can stop communicating if you feel uncomfortable.

4. Use instant messaging. Many online dating sites offer instant messaging which can be used to communicate with other members. This is a safer way to communicate than email because it allows you to chat lighthearted with other members in an impromptu manner. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security – resist the temptation to give out your personal details, even though you have been in touch for a little while.

5. Ask questions. Ask about hobbies, education, career and family. Make a mental note of their response so that you can quickly identify inconsistencies. If you spot anything inconsistent, that could be an indication that they have lied about other things.

6. Don’t Lie. Be honest about your own circumstances, while at the same time maintaining your privacy. Be honest about your intentions toward the other party – if you think they are not the one for you, politely make that clear to them. It's better to be honest than to raise their hopes and then disappoint them.

7. Be safe. If, after many messages, you both think it's time to speak on the phone, note that the man should give the women his phone number while the woman keeps hers secret for the time being.

8. Be protected. If you are definitely sure you would like to meet the other person offline, it's acceptable to ask for references from his friends, relatives or co-workers. Of course you run the risk of appearing neurotic, or hurting the other person’s feelings, but if they really want to meet you they will honour your request. If push comes to shove, you could do a background check. Before meeting up you should:

(i) inform somebody of the meeting. Tell your friends or family members exactly where you are going and who you are meeting. Remember to take your mobile phone with you in case of emergencies.

(ii) plan to meet in a public place such as a café, park, or museum where there are lots of people around. And try not to leave your drinks unattended.



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Guide for Choosing a Diamond

Here is a simple guide to the essentials of diamond grading. What to look for? What the terms mean? What makes one diamond worth more than another? Understanding these issues will help you purchase the best diamond for your money. Diamond appraisers look for four qualities in a diamond when discerning its value. These qualities are commonly called the '4 Cs'. They are: Cut, Clarity, Carat and Colour.

Cut

There are two aspects referred to when discussing the cut of a diamond. The first refers to the quality of the cut, which relates to the brilliance of the diamond. The other aspect refers to the shape of the diamond. Diamonds are available in many shapes. Some of the more common shapes are; round, oval, pear (teardrop shaped), heart, princess (square shaped), Emerald (rectangular shaped), marquise (football shaped) and round. Of all the shapes available, round diamonds are the shape most capable of being cut to show the greatest brilliance. The brilliance is determined by the ability of the diamond to reflect light. A quality cut diamond will have facets angled to reflect the greatest amount of light. Beware of diamonds cut to maintain a higher carat weight while sacrificing the cutting of a good angle as this will dramatically reduce the brilliance.

Clarity

Diamonds from natural sources are subject to individual flaws including trace minerals and scratches. A diamond without such characteristics is called 'flawless'; it is the rarest kind. While flaws are often not visible to the naked eye, they affect the light-reflecting qualities of the diamond which, in turn, affects the overall brilliance. Diamond clarity is classified as follows: Flawless, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, SI3, I1, I2 and I3.

Carat

Carat is the measurement of the weight of a diamond. One carat is sometimes referred to as '100 points'. This means that a half carat diamond is listed as '50 points' and so on. The larger a diamond is the more costly it is. Since the larger diamonds are much rarer the cost will go up significantly with each increase in size. A one carat diamond will be more than double the cost of a half carat. However, a ring with multiple diamonds that have a combined weight of one carat will be cheaper than a single stone of that weight.

Colour

The colour of a diamond is rated on an alphabetical scale from D to Z. A typical 'white' diamond should be as colourless as possible. A rating of 'D' is the rarest and most desirable. When choosing a colourless diamond it's best to stay within the D-J range, or the diamond will have a yellow cast which lessens the value. The less natural colour the diamond has the more colours will appear in the flashes reflected in the prism. 'Fancy' diamonds (diamonds with a rating over Z) come in a variety of shades and include some famous diamonds such as the Blue Hope diamond.

When purchasing a diamond it is important to remember that each of the 4 C's are of equal importance in an appraiser's eyes. If cost is an issue, consider which features are of greatest importance to you and select the diamond that will hold the greatest value for your budget.


Finger Food Recipes

Easy finger food recipes for your next casual, or elegant get-together.

We are all so pressed for time these days, it's hard to justify spending days in the kitchen to assemble an array of goodies, to serve at a Saturday night get-together with friends. On the other hand, you want to have a more or less lavish spread for your guests to enjoy, so what's a good solution?

Easy finger food recipes are perfect for a buffet style party, dinner, or cocktail get-together, especially when you can get a head start on the preparations, with deli and supermarket selections that require little in the way of cooking! The trick to finger food recipes is selecting foods where the prep work is, for the most part, done for you. Here are some suggestions on laying out a buffet fit for the most sophisticated palates.

It's always good to have one or two main dishes to make sure everyone gets a satisfying amount of food. A fully cooked ham requires only warming, while a marinated pork loin roast or roast beef can be set in a slow cooker in the morning, ready to slice and serve at party time. Unless you have a large crowd, you'll have leftovers for tomorrow night's family meal.
catering, finger food, buffet, party food, A veggie plate, with an assortment of healthy veggies, are tempting choices for those vegans, dieters and health-conscious guests. Thinly sliced broccoli and cauliflower florets, baby carrots, boiled pearl onions, white mushrooms and julienned red bell peppers make a colorful presentation. Serve a few dressings or dips on the side, so your guests can indulge, or not, as they choose.

If you haven't tried Kalamata olives, now is the time. You can pick up these flavor rich gems at the deli, present them on a plate lined with a few leaves of hearts of Romaine; skewer the olives and you're done. This is undoubtedly one of the easiest finger food recipes you'll find.

Jalapeno chili poppers are a perennial party food favorite. Available at the deli or in the frozen food aisle, both mild and spicy, you simply bake and serve.

Stuffed mushroom caps are an easy and quick finger food. Clean the mushrooms, pop off the stems and dice them. Saute the diced stems briefly in butter, add minced garlic (available in a handy jar) and finely diced parsley. Fill the stems with this mixture, sprinkle the grated cheese of your choice over each cap and broil until the cheese is melted. If you prepare the filling as a do-ahead, this finger food recipe is a ten-minute wonder.

A combination plate of cooked prawns and broiled bay scallops, skewered with sprigs of cilantro or dill makes an elegant but quick finger food recipe.

Petit fours can be made with a whole grain bread (cut into four triangular pieces) and filled with simple, but tasty fillings, such as chicken, tuna, ham or egg salad. These fillings are excellent do-ahead candidates you can make the night before your party. Zip them up with diced onion, celery, chopped chives, sliced black olives or fresh or dried basil, according to the meat you're using.

If your budget allows, slices of smoked salmon, rolled and wrapped with a blade of chives, is a show stopper. Pickled herring, diced into bite-sized chunks is much more affordable and quite the delicious and easy finger food recipe, when served with sour cream on the side.

Chicken wings, basted with a spicy Tabasco sauce are another winner at the buffet table. Again, these are easy enough to make, but time is of the essence when creating your party spread. So go ahead and take advantage of those two or three pound bags in the freezer section. Bake, skewer and serve.

Each of these finger food recipes provide a richly flavored mouthful which your guests will savor with delight. So rich, in fact, that a couple of loaves of artisan bread, sliced, brushed with a bit of garlic spread and broiled, completes your feast perfectly.




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