Fit and Fashionable....for the Rest of Us

You might be a size 4 and look amazing in pretty much any spandex or workout gear you pick off the shelf. Maybe you are a gym rat with muscles rippling and can wear whatever you want to the gym, feeling good. Or....maybe you are like me - not the traditional gym rat and spandex usually just shows all your ripples and dimples. That being said, I love going hiking or walking, sometimes even jogging. I love being outside - riding bikes, walking the dogs, etc. I enjoy going to the gym sometimes, although I find that what I am wearing can affect my confidence, mood, and even my energy level at the gym. If I feel comfortable and confident in what I am wearing, I am more likely to stick with it, push myself, and get the most out of my workout. I want clothes that will flatter and make me feel strong and capable instead of frumpy and hiding.

 Sound a little crazy? Maybe...but I know I am not alone. It used to be a baggy t-shirt and baggy pants were your only options outside of skinny girl spandex but thankfully, many retailers are catching on that fit doesn't always mean skinny. And fitness doesn't always mean unflattering spandex! Over the past few years, I have learned what some of my favorites are - and conversely, what brands and styles just don't work for curvier gals. I've put together a list of my favorite brands and some examples of my favorite styles and pieces. I hope you give them a shot and enjoy them as much as I do!

Athleta - Athleta is my absolute favorite for quality and style. Everything I've purchased from them has held up amazingly well, fits like they know my body, and is so comfortable that I immediately want to purchase 5 of everything so I never run out! The downside is that they can be fairly pricey - so I watch for sales and sometimes purchase full price just because I know it will fit and I know it will last me a long time. Paying a little more for a quality piece is so worth it, over buying a bargain item that will shrink or fade or pill within the first month or two.

Old Navy - The quality and fit of Old Navy's active wear seems to have greatly improved, even in just the past year or two. I think they've always had some cute styles but unfortunately, they often didn't translate well once you got to size L or XL and definitely not to plus sizes. This is no longer the case! In fact, some of my favorite workout capris are from Old Navy. Fabrics are breathable, but strong enough to hold everything where it needs to be. The other awesome thing about Old Navy is that they offer Tall Sizes in a lot of their clothes!

Under Armour - While Under Armour does not specifically have a plus size line, they do offer XL and XXL in many styles, which in most cases will fit up to an 18/20. I like the brand because it is quality and will last a long time. They also offer great color combinations.

Favorite New Product!

Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for anything pink or sparkly. Put them together and I'm in love! I ran across this company on FB and have since ordered my own tumbler - I just can't get enough of the glitter! As someone with little to no artistic talent whatsoever, I am in awe of the designs and color schemes they come up with. They will even work with you on what you are wanting - logos included.

In addition to being quality and adorable, my favorite thing about these tumblers is that they are dispatcher made and come in such a variety of designs.

And YOU can save 10% with code THEQWORD10! Check them out on FB: Stardust Glitter Tumblers. Then, send them a message to order yours! Especially with Mother's Day coming up, summer birthdays, pool days, can't go wrong with these unique tumblers!

The Forgotten Cops

Imagine going to spend your day amongst the worst of the worst - murderers, pedophiles and rapists, bank robbers, etc. Now imagine that on top of the 8-12 hours you will spend with these people, you will do it outnumberd by at least 80-100 to 1. You will not be armed with a firearm to protect yourself. If you're lucky, you may have OC (pepper) spray and you may have a stab vest. Maybe. Imagine that you are the voice of authority and it is your responsibility to keep these prisoners peaceful in a confined space, knowing that being locked up in an incarcerated state, some with nothing to lose, can make people act and react differently. Now imagine doing this day after day - essentially locked up for an entire shift with the very people that society deems unsafe; the offenders that society doesn't want to deal with. These offenders were sentenced by a court of law and then basically forgotten about as they were sent "away" - except some people still have to think about them, deal with them, protect YOU from them. 

The people that stand between US and the criminals our judicial system has deemed unworthy to live in the open world are Correctional Officers and Workers. And in 1984, President Ronald Reagan admitted that "the important work of correctional Officers often does not receive the recognition from the public it deserves." He then deemed the first full week of May, each year, as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week. This year, it will be May 6th-12th, 2018.
While I may be somewhat biased as I am married to a Correctional Officer, their job is one that we should ALL be concerned with and appreciative of. My husband spends his days supervising men convicted of possession of large amounts of child porn, men who have taken the life of another person, men who have met children and teens for sex, men who have schemed and connived to swindle hardworking people out of their life savings, men who have led corrupt and shameless political lives. While they are still human beings and I'm proud of the way my husband treats them as such, they are also demented and dangerous; unfit to walk alongside the rest of us in the free world. Without Correctional Officers and Workers, these dangerous criminals would put our children, our livlihoods, and our lives at risk. Instead, Correctional Officers put their own lives at risk to keep the rest of us safe.

Mu husband has come home with bruised ribs when an angry inmate didn't like the particulars of his laundry service and attacked him. He has seen a crazed inmate sever his own penis. He has seen men who can no longer take their guilt or their incarceration hang themselves. The sounds and sights he, and others like him, have seen and had to live with are more than most of us can even imagine. Yet when discussing first responders, protectors, sheepdogs, most people never think of Correctional Officers. We send dangerous criminals away, out of sight, out of mind - but don't think about the heroes who put their lives on the line each and every day so that we can feel and be safer without these dangerous people on the loose. We don't think about the things these Officers endure and live with so that we don't have to.

So in the upcoming couple of weeks, particularly May 6th-12th, please think about the men and women who go to work each day in an enclosed, locked down environment; surrounded by the worst our society has to offer, some with nothing to lose; unarmed; knowing their lives are at risk so that their own families and even strangers can sleep better at night, knowing these criminals cannot get to them. Please say a prayer to keep them safe so that they come home unharmed to their loved ones each night. And if you see a Correctional Officer or know one, please tell them Thank You, that you appreciate the work they do to keep us safe.

5 Favorite Drug Store Buys

There are some products that I splurge on, spending a little extra because I really love the way they work and haven't found a cheaper equivalent. But with so many different brands and companies catering to millions of skin care and cosmetic product buying women (and men), the quality of products sold at drug and discount stores has dramatically improved in the past 10 years. I've put together a list of 5 of my very favorites for you to try and hopefully, love as much as I do!

Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner - Not only does this give my face a clean, fresh canvas in the morning, but it also helps reduce the size of pores. How to use: Apply to face with a cotton ball, after washing, before moisturizer. Let dry before applying moisturizer.

Loreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heat Spray - I might have been a little behind the game on the whole heat spray thing, but now that I've caught on, I'm never going back! This stuff makes drying my hair (and I have LOTS of it) much faster, and it gets rid of the weird wave my hair has if I don't straighten or curl it. How to use: Section hair into 2-3 inch sections and spray mid-shaft to end. Comb through hair and blow dry. Style as usual - though I've found little to no need to straighten if I use this stuff!

Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Definer Pencil - Not a fan of the sharpie brows, but still wanting some definition, I love this stuff. Easy coloring to draw/fill in with a convenient brush on the other end. How to use: Use the colored end to fill in brows and define edges, then brush through with the other end.

e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer - To be honest, e.l.f. has several really good items for an inexpensive price, but this one is my favorite. It delivers on the hydration, which if you live in a dry climate like I do, you can never get enough skin hydration. It also goes on really easy and lays a great foundation for your foundation! How to use: Apply generously to entire face before foundation or BB cream.

Cover Girl Clump Crusher Extensions Lashblast Mascara - I cannot believe the incredible number of different mascaras in the world! I've definitely found it overwhelming, especially when so many of them don't deliver what they promise or what I want. Drugstore brand or not, this is seriously my very favorite mascara, to the point that I've even layered it and use the brush over the higher end mascaras that cost way more. This brush truly is a clump crusher and works amazingly. How to use: Apply even coat to your lashes. Layer until your desired length and thickness.

So there you have my top 5 choices for discount/drug store brands. What are some of your favortites?

National Police Week

Each year, one week is set aside, designated as National Police Week. It began in 1962, when President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as Peac...