Happy Holidays!

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback you sent us after our first issue of Chicz hit the stands in October! We knew we loved the magazine, but we were thrilled to learn that you loved it too! Not only did you send us your appreciation, but you also sent us your fabulous ideas to feature in upcoming issues.

A few of you even got so caught up with the new magazine that you sent us articles, and we’re happy to say, we printed them! A special welcome to contributing writer Amanda Herzog, a 7th grader who felt she had something to offer the “young chicz” in the area.

We’re already at work on your winter issue and would love your input. Please send us a note about what you think of Chicz or share your ideas with us.

In the meantime, enjoy every minute of the holiday season. Don’t get so caught up in the “to do’s” that you miss out on the real joys of the season – time with loved ones. My wish for you is that this time is unhurried, unharried and heartwarming.

Merry Christmas!
Tara Bitzan
Chicz Editor 

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Mommy & me crafts

By Melanie Danner


Washable tempera paint

1. Decorate each rock with paint and let dry


Tuna or chicken salad
Googly eyes

1. Glue eyes to toothpicks
2. Spread salad onto croissants
3. Poke toothpicks into sandwiches for eyes


Egg crate
Washable tempera paint
Pipe cleaners

1. Cut egg crate so each caterpillar will have three humps
2. Decorate each with paint and let dry
3. Poke two holes in top of one end with scissors
4. String pipe cleaners through holes for antennas

Melanie Danner of Alexandria is an at-home mother and craft lover.

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5 minute mommy time-outs

By Alyssa Stern

We all have five minutes in our busy lives to take for ourselves. The important thing is to remember to take the five minutes and do something for us, because we mamas deserve it.

1. Essential oil bath – soak for about 20 minutes. Here are some suggestions:
Take a handful of Epsom salts, 1⁄2 cup baking soda and 10 drops of essential oils – lavender (calming), grapefruit (uplifting), peppermint (fatigue)
This combination will draw out the toxins, lower stress, and balance pH levels. Take a cool five minute shower to rinse off the toxins and close your skin’s pores.

2. Order your favorite dessert to-go on your way home from work. After the kids are put to bed, find your favorite spot in the house and take out your dessert. Enjoy each bite, and think about why this is your favorite dessert. What makes it special? Savor every sinful bite of chocolate, caramel and whipped topping goodness.

3. On your way into work, find a favorite play list and try not to think about the grocery list or the play date schedule for the week. Allow yourself to prepare for the day and say an affirmation. “Today is a great day. I will be the best I can be and succeed in all the tasks I perform today.” I love the app Spotify (plus, it’s free!). You can search by genres and moods. And, you can create your own playlist with your favorite songs and play the list whenever you want!

4. DIY Sugar Scrub – Use this in the morning during your shower or after a long day at work:
1/2 cup sea salt (non-iodized)
1/2 cup oil of your choice (jojoba, almond, olive, coconut oil)
1 tsp. citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit or a mix)
Mix ingredients together. Rub on skin while in the shower (avoiding eyes) and rinse off.
Store in a container such as a mason jar or a squeeze bottle and enjoy!

5. Favorite beverage – sit down with a hot cup of coffee with a dash of cinnamon to rev up the metabolism or sip on some settling nettle tea. Enjoy a tall glass of iced tea with a slice of lemon on the side, with your feet propped up on a chair. Visualize yourself in your favorite place, or maybe being on the deck with your favorite beverage is your favorite thing to do.

Alyssa Stern of Alexandria is a busy mom and certified group exercise instructor teaching spin/cycling and high intensity interval training. Visit her blog at alyssajeanstern.blogspot.com.

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10 benefits of reading

By Lori Mork

As a voracious reader, I know the positive effect that getting lost in a good novel can bring. Here are 10 reasons why you should grab a book and dive in:

Works your memory. It doesn’t matter what you read, reading helps the parts of your brain connect in a challenging way.

Helps you improve your workouts. A book that keeps your mind occupied can help you stay on your exercise machine longer.

Keeps your brain young. Diving into a good book can slow the rate of your brain’s decline by 32 percent, according to a study by the Rush University Medical Center.
Reduce stress. Climbing into your favorite chair with a good book helps decrease the levels of unhealthy stress hormones.

Improves your vocabulary. Researchers estimated that people learn 5 to 15 percent of all the words they know through reading, according to a Scholastic report.

Promotes empathy. Getting caught up in the lives of characters in your book can make it easier for you to relate to someone else’s point of view.

Save money. An average book costs somewhere between $8 for an e-book and $13 for a paperback. Compare that to going to see a movie or eating out, reading is much more cost effective.

Improve your outlook. Identifying with characters in your book can help you feel a partnership with them.

Sleep better. Sleep experts say a regular de-stressing routine before bed helps give your body the signals it needs for a good night’s sleep.

Gives you better writing skills. When a person is exposed to published, well-written work, it’s been shown to have a strong effect on that person’s writing skills.

Lori Mork of Lowry is a mother, grandmother and dabbler in all things food, photography and decor related.

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Sleep your way to better health

By Carly Erickson, ND, SMS

Sleep your way to better health! Sound too good to be true? Sleep plays an important role in your mental and physical health. Sleep helps your brain form new pathways for learning and remembering information. It also helps with attention span, decision making and creativity. Sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep is essential for hormone secretion, tissue regeneration, muscle building, detoxification, and your immune system.

Many individuals today are not getting enough sleep or getting quality rest and are putting their health at risk. The majority of school-aged children need at least 10 hours per night of sleep and most adults need at least 7-9 hours per night. Here are some tips for improving your sleep and ultimately your health.
Maintain a consistent time for sleep and waking time.
Do not stay up past the initial signs of sleepiness.
Have a getting ready for bed routine to relax and prepare your body for sleep. Try a warm Epsom salt bath, breathing exercises or meditation to help promote muscle relaxation and sleep.
Avoid taking naps during the day if you have trouble sleeping at night.
Reserve the bed for sleep and sex only. Do not read, watch TV, eat or worry in bed.
If you have been lying awake in bed for more than 15-20 minutes, get out of bed to do something mundane until you feel sleepy and then return to bed.
Maintain a cool, quiet and comfortable sleeping environment. Reduce ambient lighting as much as possible. Minimize electronic devices such as clocks, TVs, cellphones and computers as their electromagnetic fields can disturb sleep.
Regular exercise during the day or early evening can decrease the time it takes to get to sleep and increase deep sleep. It’s best to avoid exercise late in the evening.
Get regular sunlight exposure to encourage a strong circadian rhythm and normal melatonin production.
If you are waking during the early hours of the morning, try a small protein snack before bed to ensure consistent blood sugar levels throughout the night.
Avoid caffeine and B-vitamins later in the day as their effect can last many hours after consumption and can keep you awake.
Avoid sleeping pills, which are highly addictive, full of side effects and decrease the amount of time spent in deep sleep while increasing light sleep.

Carly Erickson of Alexandria is a doctor of naturopathic medicine at the Dynamic Healing Center in Alexandria.

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Fall 2014 fashion trends

By Karla Mikkelson

Wrap Coats. Face it, it’s Minnesota. When both warm and trendy are in? Can’t beat that.

Matchy matchy sets. I know, I know, we used to avoid this. You’ll start to see it now.

Leopard print. It’s been in for awhile, but it’s still running rampant. A feminine take on this is all over the runways.

Capes. Comfy and cozy for all shapes and sizes. Day or night, capes will be spotted all over.

Plaids. Yes, we know it’s not original, but it’s in. From pants, to skirts, to scarves, choose some fun checkers and plaids.

Mid-calf skirts. With boots or without, many body shapes will be grateful that this trend is in.

Blue. From periwinkle to navy, start singin’ the blues.

Orange. Believe it or not, we all have a shade that looks good on us. Time to find it.

Fur and Shearling. From fur vests, to collars, jackets and more, the fluffier the better.

Pastels. These are lasting from spring right through the fall. From peach and mint, to light dusty pink and baby blue, just add a jacket and you’re right in style.

Animal accents and motifs. Have a favorite animal?

Wear it proudly. From a fox to an owl, you’re going to see it in fall fashion.

Gray. When black and white feels overdone, why not go gray. It’s timeless. Need a splash of color? Layer it with some pastels, or a deep mustard or orange.

Karla Mikkelson is a graphic artist and jewelry designer in Alexandria.

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15 minutes a day to a stress-free, healthier you!

By Kristen Haabala Wiener

Stress is a natural part of life, but when it becomes too much, it can affect your health. In fact, chronic stress can trigger serious illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and even cancer!
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid stress, but you can change your reaction to it. Many of my patients get a “prescription” for daily stress relief. What one person finds relaxing may not be the same for another, so find something every day that makes you relax.
Set aside 15 minutes a day and choose one of the suggestions below (or make up your own). You’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier, more relaxed version of yourself in no time!

Take a quick walk or sneak in your favorite exercise.
Studies show that walking is an effective anti-depressant and can help deal with stress in a healthier manner. Next time you’re feeling stressed or worried, start walking! You should return feeling happier in just 15 minutes. An added benefit is that it’s heart healthy as well!
Make time for something you enjoy.
As life gets busier and we spend our time making sure everything on our daily checklist is taken care of, we often forget to take care of someone who really needs attention: you! Take time to do something that you enjoy. Make it a priority. Take a bath, snuggle your pet, read a book, garden….enjoy the things that make you you!

Deep breathing.
This is a very simple yet effective technique to reduce the tension and stress hormones in your body, and you can practice it anywhere! Get into a comfortable position with your shoulders back and arms relaxed at your side. Take a deep breath in through your nose, counting slowly to three, then release your breath through your mouth, counting slowly to six.
This type of breathing relaxes your nervous system. You can feel your muscle tension decrease while noticing an increased sense of calm. Practice this technique 15 minutes throughout the day until it becomes routine; while sitting at your desk, waiting at a stop light, or whenever you feel that your level of stress is creeping up.

Practice gratitude.
Starting the day by focusing on what you are grateful for is a great way to maintain a positive outlook and decrease stress! Start by making a list of all of the blessings in your life. Hang your gratitude list somewhere you will see it. Focusing on the positives will soon have your stressors fading away!

Kristen Haabala Wiener is a doctor of naturopathic medicine at Midwest Natural Medicine in Alexandria.

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Mindfulness vs. Meditation

By Pete Pfeffer

When the topic of meditation comes up, it often causes a stir. There can be confusion as to the purpose and the expected outcome. My first experience was no different.
I was walking back to work when I saw the sign, Lakes Area Counseling and Mediation. “Great! I’ve always wanted to try this…” I thought. I burst through the door and said, “Hi! I’m here about your sign, could you tell me about your meditation program?”
The receptionist looked at me quizzically, and kindly said, “It is Lakes area Counseling and…Mediation.” I looked down at the stack of business cards on the counter, reread the words and said, “Well, one misplaced consonant and I look like a real bonehead.” She proceeded to belly laugh, at my expense. Meditation is about increasing awareness, and mine increased exponentially that day.
Of all the magical things meditation is painted to be, one of the easiest to grasp is the term “awakening.” It is becoming aware of your breathing, your surroundings and your intention. Taking a moment to sit or walk quietly and simply notice has an important calming effect on our bodies.
It is reported that we have upwards of 50,000 thoughts per day, which is roughly 35 a minute. There are two issues at work here. The first is many of these thoughts are the same thought, repeated numerous times. The second issue becomes, what is the nature of these thoughts? Are they empowering or disempowering, are they positive or toxic, and how do we act on these thoughts?
Taking time to quiet our mind, breathe and notice what is working and what is no longer a fit in our lives gives us the opportunity to make change. It is the chance to switch from automatic mechanical behavior to intentional responses and choices.
Where do you start? Meditation is not really an activity, it is observation, and the method is stillness. Being aware of the present moment, what is happening? What do I hear? What do I see? What do I feel?
A great place to begin is to simply become aware of your breathing. Try, during your day, to simply breathe…let go and be fully aware of the moment. You don’t need to shave your head or wear an orange robe…just breathe and become aware!

Peter Pfeffer is a doctor of chiropractic with HealthSource Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab in Alexandria.

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Indulge yourself with these items from downtown Alexandria

Ignore the price tag and splurge

By Annie Harman

Nothing is more satisfying than walking into a store and literally buying whatever you want. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the luxury (or bank accounts) to experience this ecstasy.
However, we should never underestimate the power of treating ourselves. Whether you enjoy a glass of champagne on Thursday evenings or a long walk over your lunch break, it’s always important to celebrate you!
Clothes and accessories are a great way to make you feel special. Though it’s important not to break the bank at your favorite boutique, every once in a while it’s a good idea to splurge on your favorite person…you!
Did you have a long week at work? Did you finally lose those 20 pounds you swore you’d have off by bikini season? Did you see something in a store window that you simply cannot stop thinking about?
Go for it. Throw out your rules on your budget for one day and drape yourself in an outfit that makes you feel powerful, beautiful, special and most importantly, happy. Ignore the price tag every once in a while and allow yourself to feel good.

The secret to Scandinavian skin

Swedish women are often talked about for their flawless skin and how beautifully they age.
While we could spend big money on days at the spa to make our skin silky, creamy and age defying, it’s easier to save the cash and follow the tricks of the women whose skin we crave.
For generations, Swedish women have been mixing their own facial masks at home containing glycerin, rose water and egg whites. Inspired by this, a bar of soap was developed for women around the world. The Lanolin-Agg-Tval Soap, found at the Scandinavian Gift Shop in downtown Alexandria, will cleanse the pores, give a fantastic complexion and leave you feeling like a million bucks while only spending $4.50.

Annie Harman of Alexandria is a free-spirited writer who believes in dreams, laughing and champagne.

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Nails fit for trick-or-treat

By Jessica Sly

Are you looking for a new nail design for October? Rather than spooky or scary, why not go sweet or scrumptious?
Candy corn is a Halloween staple. Not only is it a complement to fall colors and a yummy addition to your candy dish, but it is a great look for your nails!

*Let the polish dry between each step.
1. Apply a clear base coat.
2. Paint your nails with yellow polish.
3. Apply some orange polish to a small cosmetic sponge and dab it over two-thirds of the nail until no yellow is showing through.
4. Apply some white polish to a new sponge and pat it onto the nail tip, about one-third of the nail, until no orange shows through.
5. Apply a clear top coat.
6. Use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover to clean up around your nails.
TIP: To reduce the mess, put tape on the skin around your nails.

Jessica Sly of Alexandria is a writer/proofreader and has a passion for art of all kinds, whether it be music, writing, drawing or Disney.

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Make a bookmark from old book spines

By Lori Mork

If you have a book that’s seen better days, here’s a way to make use of the spine by turning it into a bookmark.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Old, unusable book
Heavy cardstock
Matte gel medium for glue
Ribbon or tassel

Cut apart the book, saving the spine.

Use matte gel medium to glue heavy cardstock to the back of the book spine.
Use a hand roller, or rolling pin, to really flatten the two pieces together.
When completely dry, trim around the book spine to clean up the edges.
Punch a hole at the top center of the spine and set an eyelet.
Add ribbon or tassel.

Lori Mork of Lowry is a mother, grandmother and dabbler in all things food, photography and decor related.

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