To anyone who knows me, it’s no secret that I’m not a regular runner (my college lacrosse days are long gone). But with the start of a new year and the motivation of a friendly bet, I’ve actually been hitting the pavement, er, treadmill for two weeks now. How do I know what I’m doing? Well, I don’t – but I did find some helpful tips for everything from tricks to finding the right running shoe to exercises that increase speed. Aside from an energy-spiking playlist, here are my favorite findings:

Wear the right sneaker: Admittedly, I am still wearing the same sneakers I’ve had since sophomore year of high school (I wish that was a joke). But I’m just about ready to commit to this enough to camp out in the specialty store until I find the right sneakers for my seriously flat feet. Fun fact: you should replace your running shoes every 300 – 400 miles.

Perfect your technique: When I first read SHAPE Magazine’s 10 tips for improving running technique, I was a little surprised. With advice like don’t land on your heel and use shorter strides rather than long strides, I’m realizing (quickly) how much work I have in store.

Build muscle to run faster: As much as squats (and anything that resembles the leg-trembling cousin of the lunge) give me nightmares, they are incredibly effective for strength training. But pain is gain (or so they say), and these four leg exercises promise to make you feel the burn.

One other benefit to taking up this healthy pastime? Running tours. Can you think of a better way to see a city you’re visiting? I didn’t think so. It’s social, you get in your exercise for the day, and you see all the sites firsthand. There is no downside.

Our Go For a Run Men’s and Women’s Boutiques open Saturday, January 26, at 11AM ET.

By Abigail Kuzia, Editor

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January 26, 2013

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I don’t know whether it’s the abrupt end to the excitement of the holidays, the fact that the entire city seems to be coming down with a cold, or the way the CVS candy aisle goes from being my favorite place during Halloween to my worst nightmare around Valentine’s Day, but I somehow always need a pick-me-up during these late winter months. I’ve wanted to experiment with aromatherapy for awhile, and considering all of the physical and emotional benefits of essential oils, I figured now was the perfect time to give it a whirl.

Aromatherapy Mist

What you’ll need:
• 6 tablespoons (1 ounce) distilled water
• Fine mist spray bottle
• Dropper
• 10 – 15 drops essential oil

How to do it:
1. Pour the distilled water into the spray bottle.
2. Use the dropper to add the essential oil of your choice. (I used orange because it’s both uplifting and calming.)
3. Use as a room freshener or linen spray.
4. Shake the mister between uses.

Aromatherapy Air Freshener

What you’ll need:
• Spray paint
• Small Mason jar with screw-on lid
• Hammer
• Nail
• Baking soda
• 8 – 10 drops essential oil

How to do it:
1. Spray-paint the lid of the Mason jar the color of your choice. (This is done to cover the jar’s logo.) Let dry.
2. Using the hammer and nail, carefully poke about a dozen holes in the lid. I did this in a heart design.
3. Fill about 1/4 of the jar with baking soda.
4. Add 8 drops of the essential oil of your choice. (I used 6 lavender and 4 vanilla.)
5. Screw on the lid and place in your bathroom, closet, or kitchen to enjoy the calming and sweet aroma.
6. Shake from time to time to renew the scent.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

How did your road test fare? Share it in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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January 24, 2013

In an effort to prolong the life of my favorite pair of dark-wash J Brand skinnies, I had to start thinking outside the box – or, in this case, the washing machine.

Cue freeze cleaning. When I first heard about the freeze-cleaning method, I’ll admit it took a while for me to warm up to the idea. But I’ll try anything to avoid doing my laundry (conventionally), and the benefits are completely worth it. The process helps protect dark washes by avoiding the wear and tear a normal spin cycle has on the fabric. By skipping the washer, you will also inadvertently conserve water (and save on the bill that comes with it).

But how exactly does it work? The frosty temp inside the icebox kills any bacteria living in your denim. This process won’t rid the jeans of cosmetic stains, but spot treating prior to freezing should do the trick.

Freeze Clean Denim

Try it for yourself:

1. Fold your jeans twice lengthwise and smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric.

2. Slip the folded denim into a ziplock freezer bag and press out any excess air prior to sealing. I suggest using a bag with a one-gallon capacity or larger.

3. Place the bag in the freezer. For best results, freeze for a minimum of 24 hours.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer 

Have you tried freeze cleaning before? Tell us how it went in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala.

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January 18, 2013

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I’ve always wished I could get someone to break in my jeans for me (that, and stretch them when they’re fresh out of the dryer). With a few simple tricks and common household supplies, you can turn everyday denim into a pair that looks like you’ve lived in it for years.

What  you’ll need:
• 
100% cotton jeans
• Pencil or chalk
• Grater
• Sandpaper block or sheets, 400 to 600 grade
• Cardboard
• X-ACTO blade

How to do it:
1.
Identify the places your jeans would naturally wear out first, such as the coin pocket, the back pocket, and, of course, the knees.
2. While wearing the jeans, mark with a pencil or chalk where you want to create abrasions, then take them off and lay them flat on your work surface.
3. Raise threads on the pocket seams by rubbing the grater back and forth over them several times (watch your fingers!).
4. Next, rub the sandpaper over these spots until desired distressing is achieved, or try this method of removing the colored threads.
5. To create knee holes, first place cardboard inside the leg so you don’t cut through to the other side of the jeans.
6. Using the X-ACTO blade, make several horizontal slices, about 1/4 inch apart, across the knees (the more slices you make, the bigger the hole will be). Keep in mind that holes and frays will continue to get larger, so don’t go overboard.
7. Use the sandpaper to raise fibers around the slits.
8. Once your jeans are distressed in all the right places, toss them in the washer and dryer to make them look more natural. After one or two washes, your denim will look like your oldest (most perfectly worn-in) pair.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

How did your road test fare? Share it in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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January 17, 2013

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I’ve been itching to experiment with ombre dip-dye for months now, but I’ve always had a slight aversion to bleach due to some unfortunate past encounters at both the salon and the laundromat. Although it’s a lot more foolproof than I expected, you might want to experiment with a scrap of fabric or piece of clothing you’re not in love with before you go in for the real deal.

What you’ll need:
• Medium- to dark-wash denim button-down shirt
• Bucket that can hold at least 10 cups of water
• 4 cups warm water
• 4 cups bleach
• Elastic band
• Rubber gloves

How to do it:
1.
 Put on rubber gloves and fill a clean plastic bucket with the warm water and bleach.
2. Tie the elastic band around the shirt about one-third of the way down, or just under the chest pocket.
3. Submerge the lower portion of the shirt all the way up to the elastic band in the liquid and let the top half hang over the edge of the bucket.
4. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes, or until desired lightness is reached.
5. Pull another one-third of the shirt out of the liquid so that two-thirds of the shirt now hangs over the side of the bucket.
6. Let sit for another 5 – 10 minutes.
7. Wring the excess liquid out of the shirt and hang it to dry (I hung mine on a hanger from my shower curtain rod).
8. Carefully dispose of the bleach and water mixture in the toilet or down the shower drain.

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

How did your road test fare? Share it in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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January 10, 2013

Mani Monday

From Rihanna and Dita Von Teese to the models at New York Fashion Week, the half-moon manicure is a favorite amongst the stars. And with endless (and eye-catching) color combos, it’s easy to see why. Create your own with these quick and easy steps, below.

What you’ll need:
• Two nail colors (I chose butter LONDON’s The Full Monty and essie’s Bahama Mama)
• Three-ring binder reinforcement stickers
• Scissors
• Clear top coat

The how-to:
1. Paint two coats on your nails with the color you want for the base. This will be the color of the half moon.
2. After your nails are completely dry, place the reinforcement stickers as far above your cuticles as you would like. (Tip: cut slits in the reinforcement stickers so they lie flat on your nails.)
3. With your second color, paint two coats on the top half of your nail.
4. Once the polish dries, peel off the reinforcement stickers from right to left. Doing this will keep the edges looking clean and prevent the nail polish from bleeding.
5. Finish with a clear top coat.

By Carolyn Schultz, Staff Writer

Did you attempt the half-moon mani? Give us your tips in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala.

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January 7, 2013

Mani Monday

New Year’s Eve is all about the sparkle. And for this year’s festivities, I’m going all out with a glitter manicure that will outshine even Times Square’s NYE ball.  For your own sparkly nail art (that will look elegant wrapped around a champagne flute), check out the steps below.

What You’ll Need:

-A bottle of your favorite colored nail polish and top coat

-Tape

-Scissors

-Jar of glitter (I used the Martha Stewart craft glitter found here.)

-Dry paintbrush

-Patience

 

Steps:

1)    Paint your nails with the colored polish and let dry completely.

2)    Cut thin strips of tape and place on nails at an angle.

3)    Immediately after, paint the top part of your nail with clear polish.

4)    Next, dip your freshly painted tip into the jar of glitter. Repeat for all nails.

5)    After 10 minutes, carefully peel the tape off of each nail. (Note: Try to peel off tape in one take, otherwise the tape will come off in pieces which will be tedious to fix – that’s where the patience comes in handy.)

6)    Use the dry paintbrush to dust off any wandering glitter.

By Carolyn Schultz, Staff Writer

Have a manicure tip? Share in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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December 31, 2012

 

IMG_3200              Photo credit: Little Red Bowtalk    

It’s official – the holidays are over. And if you’re anything like me, there’s a sea of crinkled-up wrapping paper left on your living room floor. But this year, instead of throwing it all out, I’m taking a cue from craft guru Martha Stewart and putting all that leftover paper to good use.

1. For post-holiday dinner parties, serve cocktails on a drink tray lined with leftover metallic paper.
2. Resolving to get organized for the New Year? Make it that much easier with these decorative box labels made from recycled wrapping paper.
3. Keep your place in all those books you were gifted with a homemade bookmark made of wrapping paper.
4. The best way to say thanks for that oh-so-sweet gift? A card made from the wrapping paper it came in.

By Keriann Coffey, Associate Blog Editor

How are you reusing your wrapping paper post-holiday? Share in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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December 26, 2012

You’ve got your dress ready to go, your favorite shade of lipstick applied, and visions of festive frivolity dancing in your head.

The only thing left between you and the perfect holiday ensemble? A new look for your locks. So we deferred to our in-house stylist, Rachael, for the best way to update one of this year’s most-utilized styles: the top knot. Here’s how to make it holiday-ready.

Step #1: Section off a significant amount of hair in front and clip to secure.

Step #2: With a brush (Rachael recommends a Mason Pearson boar bristle brush), fasten the rest of your hair into a high ponytail.

Step #3: Use a curing iron with a 1-inch barrel to curl the front section of hair to create a pouf for added height.

Step #4: After you’ve finished curling, tease the front section forward and gauge the volume of the pouf. Using bobby pins that match your hair shade, pin into place.

Step #5: Tease out individual layers of your ponytail to create additional volume. Use hairspray after you’ve finished teasing to smooth the top layer and any flyaway strands.

Step #6: Use pins to secure the wrapped layers around the base of your ponytail.

By Lauryn Paiva, Staff Writer

What holiday hairstyles will you be rocking this season? Share in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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December 13, 2012

 

When celebrating the holidays away from home, traveling with toys in tow can be a bit of a struggle. Whether you decide to pack, ship, or carry-on your gifts, we’ve come up with a few tips to help you avoid any unnecessary travel headaches.

To Wrap, or Not to Wrap?
Wrapped gifts are allowed in carry-ons and checked luggage, but keep in mind that TSA officials reserve the right to undo all your handiwork during security inspections. Gifts in your checked luggage are less likely to be unwrapped, but your best bet is to save the wrapping for your arrival – unless you’re flying on Virgin Atlantic, who (for just $2 per package) will wrap presents for departing passengers who have gone through security.

The Outlaws.
Wrapped or unwrapped, toys that resemble weapons are a no-no. And the same goes for sports equipment like baseball bats, golf clubs, and hockey sticks. Liquids are also prohibited – and yes, that even includes snow globes. For a full list of restricted items, go here.

Ship, Ship, Hooray!
Unlike your airline, FedEx Ground® includes insurance and tracking – so in most cases, you’re probably better off if FedEx loses your gift than if your airline does (plus, you can wrap them). Another smart idea is to order gifts online (Rue La La, anyone?) and have them shipped directly to your destination.

Home Sweet Home.
Remember, getting there is just half the battle. To bring the gifts you received back home, pack an extra duffle in your suitcase and surround fragile items with clothing.

By Keriann Coffey, Associate Blog Editor

Have a tip for traveling with gifts? Share it in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala.

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December 12, 2012