10 essentials for the end of the summer season

Gear up for the last days of summer

A hot Indian summer can last for weeks, or longer, after Labor Day, so don’t give up yet on fun in the sun. For summer’s last hurrah, do it right with these 10 essentials for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors. Gear up and get outside, while you can.

Beach head

Violet Love chic headbands ($17 and up) and bandeaus ($24) that stay in place, at the beach, riding in the convertible, or wherever you head out or bust a move. This playful line of headwear, strapless bra tops and other accessories and apparel items features fun prints and styles and soft, stretchy lightweight fabrics that are comfortable, cute, and functional.

Throw on the towel

Distinguish your base camp on the beach with colorful Lacoste beach towels (Macy’s, $42). These stylish, crocodile-emblazoned towels are lightweight yet plush and absorbent, and their large size makes them a cross between a towel and blanket, to wrap up in after splashing in the water, or for sandphobes who want spacious ground cover when basking in the sun.

Blow up your kayak

If you’ve always wanted a kayak but didn’t think you had the space to store one, Innova Kayaks has a solution that blows traditional kayaks out of the water. These inflatable kayaks are lightweight and constructed of heavy duty natural and synthetic rubber that will last for years, even decades.  They blow up in minutes with a high-capacity foot pump, and after the adventuring they fold up compactly and can be carries away in an oversized backpack and loaded into even a compact car. One-person and three-seater models available, with capacity up to 900 pounds. Available at dealers nationwide $399 to $1,299.

Hot or not

Need to Facebook while you are on the beach? Stop being a lame-o and enjoy the beach, but if you do need your phone for an emergency, take along ClimateCase ($34.99) insulating smartphone case. The lined pouch protects your phone against extreme temperatures that can cause a phone to stop working.  The case features a multi-layered thermal system comprised of 7 mm of Neoprene and gel infused materials. Pop it in the fridge for four hours before using (or in the microwave for 20-25 seconds in cold weather), to keep your phone safe; or if the worst happens, you can restore an overheated (or frozen) phone in less than 60 seconds.


Mosquitos don’t stick to any calendar when it comes to biting season, so keep them away from you and your patio party with Thermacel Patio Shield.  ($39.99, at retailers nationwide). This sleek little portable-speaker-sized mosquito repeller burns an insect repellent mat that creates a 15’ x 15’ protection zone, perfect for a small outdoor area. It uses butane cartridges (four included, to last 48 hours) and two AA batteries to operate.

Coolest cooler

You’ve got your hands full, with beach chairs, blankets, boogie boards and kids. Free up a hand by strapping your cooler on your back, with the IceMule ($49.95 to $69.95), a portable insulated backpack that will keep your food and drinks icey cold for up to 24 hours. These padded sacks feature a heavy-duty inner and outer skin, a range of sizes and a ventilated backpack strap system.

If you dare wear skort skirts

In between summer and fall, it’s the perfect time to wear something in between shorts and a skirt. The Royal Robbins Jammer Skort ($60) is a sporty and comfortable skirt with stretchy built-in shorts underneath that allow you to be active and lady like at the same time.

Shoe be do

Step out in fashion forward and comfort-driven Off the Beaten Track sandals. You can stride in style the best thing next to bare feet, on the boardwalk, at the theme park, shopping, strolling, or anywhere you want to wander in these casual go-anywhere, do-anything earth-inspired leathers, with attention to detail that will make you want to put your feet up, to show them off.  The line also features shoes and boots for all seasons, $79 to $179.

Hydrate, or dry

If summer’s sun had taken a toll on your skin, hydrate and refresh it with Vichy’s Mineral 89 ($29.50), a skincare formula comprised of 89% Vichy Thermal Water, derived from mineral-rich volcanic territory in Vichy, France, plus the addition of hyaluronic acid which ramps up the performance of the mineralizing water to boost skin’s resistance to daily aggressors, for year-round healthy-looking skin.

Snack on

When you are tossing some treats into your tote for an outing, its hard to find nutritious and yummy snacks that won’t melt into mush on a hot day. All-natural KUTOA snack bars ($23.99 fo r12-pack)are not only delicious, they are perfect for packing along to the beach or pool, soccer game, or other outing, and you can feel good about eating these oatmeal bars because they are non-GMO verified, vegan, gluten, and contain no dairy, soy, wheat, preservatives or added sugar, plus for every bar that’s purchased, KUTOA helps feed a children in need around the world. Flavors include Chocolate Banana, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Blueberry Almond, Chocolate Espresso Bean, and Cherry Cashew.


When you notice a little off the top

Solutions for when you are at a loss about hair loss


There is such a thing as “Female pattern baldness,” but not too many women want to talk about, or even acknowledge their thinning hair and balding.  Because so many sufferers keep this problem under their caps, the beauty industry has been slow to find solutions. Women usually will only wear wigs and hair pieces or turn to prescription remedies as a last resort and in the case of extreme hair loss, but for those who have a mild to moderate hair shedding, which can be due to age, medications, hormone levels, genetics, and other health or lifestyle issues, fill-in powders may be a suitable option.

Products like Fill-in Powder from Cover Your Gray may be a good solution.  The matte powder can be dusted on with a brush to conceal thinning around the temples and cover graying or balding spots. Cover Your Gray’s formula contains Procapil, a natural botanical that promotes hair growth and prevents hair loss, so while camouflaging thinning areas it can help thicken hair and protect against further loss. The powder comes in four shades for matching, and it stays on through rain, sweat and normal daily activities.

fill in powder

While many other similar cover-up hair products are designed for touching up hair color between highlights or color styling, they can also be used to cover thinning hair and boost volume, such as sprays to cover thinning spots; permanent or wash-out root touch up designed to cover grey close to the scalp; touch-up sticks for around the hairline, side burns and roots; and brush-in wants for broader cover-up for scattered gray hairs throughout the head.

These are all affordable options, usually around $6 to $16. Look for brands that are waterproof, do not flake or rub off, and in shades that match as closely as possible to the rest of the hair, or slightly lighter. Powders and other topical solutions for thinning hair are generally the most efficient way to treat this beauty concern, and they are the safest and most economical, not to mention they can help extend time between salon visits.

Get on a roll, and get relief

How to use a foam roller to relieve muscle stress and soreness


Dr. Michelle Beamer, PT, DPT, Cert MDT, ASTYM, Rapid Rehabilitation guides me through my roller routine.

When we hear the term DIY, we usually think of home improvement, but in an age when insurance coverage is uncertain and responsibility for one’s own health care is more important than ever, it is empowering to know there are many things we can do at home to take care of ourselves.  Recently I discovered a physical therapy tool that I now use daily to maintain the progress I made in therapy sessions.

Everyone likes a massage, and now you can do it for yourself with a number of tools designed for self-massage. The most common of these are foam rollers, which can be used for a variety of applications that can release muscle tension, stretch tense areas and rub out sore spots.

Manipulating your body on a foam roller gives you a sense of control over what muscles need the most work and how much pressure to apply.

A company named OPTP makes a wide variety of these rollers. They have rollers of different density and firmness, different textures, sizes, links, and even an assortment of colors and patterns. For just about every musculoskeletal ailment, they make a roller for that.

My roller of choice Pro-Roller soft style, which runs $22.50 to $36. Since I am a bit of a light weight when it comes to “no-pain, no-gain,” I prefer a softer consistency roller which I find more comfortable, particularly on my neck and back where I have chronic soreness and stiffness.


Rollers come in a variety of firmnesses, textures, sizes and shapes.

The soft compression of this roller works well on tight and rigid areas and is ideal for lying supine. In this position I use the roll like a weight bench, using light dumbbells to do chest flies; or I edge up to the top of the roll to do neck extensions.

For these exercises I lie with the roll in the middle of my back, cushioning my spine. This is also a great position to do core exercises where I lift one arm off of the floor and raise the opposite leg, holding that pose while balancing to keep the roll in place.

A terrific feature of foam rollers is that they are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, easy to store —  hidden away under a bed or desk, and you can conveniently use a roller several times a day without a lot of set up, to get in a little relief or relaxation when needed, even at work, if you have the space and privacy where you can lie down on a floor.


Rollers can be used to perform core exercises for balance and strengthening.

For those people who like to have someone walk on their back to crack it, rollers let you achieve this same effect using your own weight against the roller, and if that is not enough pressure you can apply force as you roll. When I first began rolling, my back would crack frequently; then, as I rolled more often, the cracking diminished, as my alignment improved.

There are plenty of online videos and articles about roller exercises, though I would advise getting a baseline program from a professional physical therapist who can tell you if there’s any contraindications with your particular condition. My physical therapist provided me with an illustrated printout of base exercises which I have built upon, and already within six weeks I have seen measurable improvements of 30 and 40 percent in my flexibility and range-of-motion in my problem areas. Clearly, I am on a roll.

Unicycle show and trial class March 3

Warrenton unicycle group performs and welcomes newcomers to try a beginner class


If you’ve every wanted to learn to ride a unicycle, here’s your chance.  On Friday, March 3, 6:30 to 8 pm, local unicyclist team, the UniStars, in conjunction with Fauquier County Parks and Recreation, will host a unicycle show and trial class at Vint Hill Gym in Warrenton, Virginia. After the performance, the group welcomes anyone over age 8 to try to ride a unicycle with the assistance of the UniStar coaches.

My son has taken the classes, and he went from not knowing how to ride a unicycle to free-mounting and doing tricks in three sessions!  He loves riding so much, we used a photo of him riding for our holiday card this year.


The classes are a half hour once a week.  The kids in the group range from 8 to older teens. The two women instructors are terrific, and they have unicycles you can rent for $10 for a the entire session . The classes are only $37 for a 5- to 7-class session, through Fauquier County Parks and Rec. For more info, email theunistars@gmail.com.

Here’s the link to register: http://www.fauquiercounty.gov/government/departments-h-z/parks-and-recreation/program-registration




7 Holiday snacks and beverages that bring good cheer

There are plenty of goodies to nibble on and imbibe during the day holiday season to fill you up like a bowl full of jelly. Here are some sweet snacks and twists on traditional treats and drinks for you and your guests that taste good and will get you on the nice list.

Party poppers

Want to bring a little, little hostess gift?  Pack along a bag of The Little Kernel mini popcorn. These tiny sans-hull crunchy popped corns, in six flavors– Truffle Sea Salt, Sweet and Salty Pink Himalayan, White Cheddar, Butter and Naked, made with 100% pure olive oil and are gluten-free, dairy-free, whole-grain and non-GMO. And for a conversation starter, the snack company was founded by Chris Laurita of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and business partner Andy Epstein. $3.99, Giant, Sprouts and other select grocery stores nationwide.


Just like Grandma made

Serve up nostalgia at your holiday with a tin of Malt Shop Cookies. These retro treats made with real malted milk are beloved by baby boomers as well as Gen Xers and millennials who crave the malted milk finishing touch. The cookies come in a gift tin with a personalized message label and are available in chocolate chip, double chocolate and mocha chocolate flavors.  $24.99, $29.99 and $39.99 for a small, medium or large tin of 12, 18 or 36 cookies.


Nuts to go

Grab some snacks for the long ride to the relatives for the holidays and crunch down on Nuts About You, handcrafted small batch treats, and with five delicious flavors of Fireball Almonds, Green Tea Almonds, Coconut Almonds, Cookies N Cream Almonds, and Sweet Sriracha, there is a nut flavor for every taste, from fiery to savory to sweet. Sampler of all five flavors, 4 oz. bags, $32, www.nutsaboutyoula.com.


Snack like a Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world, and now anyone can eat like a Mediterranean. Mediterra, the latest in healthful, all-natural snack bars, offers savory bars including flavors such as Bell Peppers and Green Olives, Black Olives and Walnuts, and Kale and Pumpkin Seeds, all with less than 4 grams of sugar and packing in 5 grams of protein. They’re rich in vegetables, nuts, herbs and seeds and contain protein-rich pea crisps, amaranth and olive oil, and all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free, certified kosher, dairy free and vegan. $1.99 each 1.23-ounce bar or three bars of each flavor in a variety pack of 12 for $23.95. Available at Safeway, Whole Foods, Wegmans and other grocers nationwide or www.MediterraNutrition.com


Got nut milk?

Don’t leave Santa a boring glass of 2% dairy milk, make him jolly with the treat of MALK.  This wonderfully delicious and healthy nut milk is made with more than one cup of sprouted and organic nuts and is cold pressed to keep it fresh. The various MALK products are made from organic pecans, almonds, and cashews, and each MALK product is less than 7 grams of sugar. The nut milk flavors are perfect to drink by themselves or to stir into egg nog, smoothies or hot cocoa. $6.99 per 28-ounce bottle.  Available nationally, including all Whole Foods and Ralph’s Grocery Stores.


Cider in the house rules

When traditional spiced cider just won’t do the trick, Sonoma Cider offers a punch, from the latest style of cider drink, hard cider. With certified organic ingredients and distinctive flavors, including the The Wimble, which is a variation on gose, an old German-style beer known to be sour and briny with a lingering and addicting harmonic tartness with notes of rhubarb and apple, The Crowbar, a habanero lime cider, and The Pulley, a crisp, refreshing apple cider with overtones of black licorice and a hint of anise, the botanical heart of absinthe. Four 12-ounce cans in a pack for $10.99, or Four bottles for $9.99. Target, Whole Foods, Food Lion and other grocery and liquor stores nationwide.


Ice is nice

Make your holiday cocktails bright and cheery with a splash of color and flavor with ICE Sparkling Ice beverages. These light and refreshing sparkling waters, teas and lemonades contain real fruit flavor in unexpected fruit combinations, like Black Raspberry, Orange Mango, Pink Grapefruit, Kiwi Strawberry, and Coconut Pineapple, without all the calories. They make flavorful mixers for your party drinks, such as a yummy pomegranate wine spritzer, with Riesling, Pomegranate Blueberry Sparkling ICE, pomegranate seeds, cranberries, a teaspoon of agape, and mint. Available in 12 packs for $12 at grocery stores nationwide.


Six things that are better on a treadmill desk

For the A-type tech junkie who likes to stay plugged in at all times, working on a treadmill desk is the ultimate multitask. Not only is walking while you work a great way to stimulate your mind and body to boost productivity, active lifestyle pundits like Kathleen Hale, founder of the Chair Free Project, point out that rising and moving instead of sitting all day at a desk could save your life.


That’s right, sitting is the new smoking. Those long hours on your butt are not only the cause of what my desk-jockey cousin’s husband nick-named “spreading a**,” but sedentary habits are a factor in heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a host of other bad things that can happen to a body that sits too much.

So if you are so inclined to avoid overly reclining and chair sitting, here are some great tips for effectively using a treadmill desk to get work done while you do your body good.

Conference calls – Talk about thinking on your feet, walking and talking makes you a better listener and thinker; and stretching your legs is far better than distracted doodling on those long squawk box calls.

Pitching – Your prospects can hear a smile on the phone, and they can hear energy in your voice when you walk and talk. An upright, walking posture opens up your diaphragm and makes you sound robust and peppy.

Admin and busy work – Keep the blood moving and keep yourself alert for no-brainer work. Timesheets, deleting old files, archiving your inbox, and other boring tasks don’t feel like a waste of time anymore when you are improving your health while you tackle them.

After lunch break – A conveyor belt under your feet does wonders to keep you from nodding off after a heavy lunch. It will also help your digestion and burn off a few calories.

Talk-to-text time – use a dictation program to go handsfree and knock out responses to those emails piling up in your inbox, update your social media, compose memos, and draft proposals or other long-winded documents that would otherwise have you sitting for hours. Dragon has a variety of software version for business or personal needs and is 99 percent accurate and three times faster than typing, and it can even search the web for you and integrate across all of your devices.


Total Recall break – plug in your headphones, close your eyes and take a stroll on the beach without ever leaving the office. Amazon music has an endless selection of play lists for every mood, and if you have an Amazon Prime membership it’s free.

When pain rules your day, Oska to the rescue


As someone who has suffered from back and neck pain for many years, mostly as a result of a car accident and also years of abuse to my body from competitive gymnastics and hard-core physical training, I have sought out remedies for relief in every direction. I have just learned about Oska, which is getting incredible results with people with all types of pain management issues.

The device resembles on oversized hi-tech computer mouse with a glowing neon light.  It is turned on with a push of a button for a 30-minute cycle, and it can be placed on the body with an ACE-bandage style belt that comes with it, or it can be placed under a pillow or close by the body.

Oska employs Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF), a technique that uses direct magnetic fields to reduce inflammation in the body and increase blood circulation to reduce pain, heal bones and improve overall body function.  For more than 60 years, big governmental entities like NASA and sporting organizations such as the NBA and NFL have been using this type of therapy for decades. Only now is it cost effective and convenient for the average consumer.

For many of us who suffer from chronic pain and have tried TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), physical therapy, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, accupunture, massage and many other modalities to get relief, Oska holds the promise of painless, drug-free and side-effect-free liberation from our pain.

One of the inspiring success stories of Oska is a woman named Shelby Short, the wife of a current Camp Pendleton Sargent, who has suffered from excruciating scoliosis since she was 16. In fact, two surgeries in her young adult life left her vertebra C4 – L4 completely fused. Pumped full of pain medications daily, Shelby and her husband’s lives have been nearly entirely ruled by her condition, leaving her extremely limited in what she can do every day.


This all changed when she was recently introduced to Oska. After using the product every day for nearly three weeks, Shelby is off nearly all of her pain medications and has regained her life.


For people like Shelby and myself, finding an alternative to medications that have harmful side effects and impact our ability to function in other areas of our lives is a Godsend.  With so many people suffering from opioid addiction due to pain issues, Oska could be a life-altering way to manage pain and live a better life, for those who experience debilitating pain and those who love them.

The exciting testimonials from Oska users is heartening, and the fact that the company offers the device with a money-back guarantee shows their sincerity of helping people. If it does not help your pain, then you may return it for a full refund. For those who are seeking an alternative to medications and for whom traditional treatments have failed, Oska may be the answer to eliminating or reducing pain for a better quality of life.