Natalia’s strength workout

over the next 5 weeks I’ll post 5 different kinds of workouts and you can do them all or find the one that you like the best: strength workout, walking workout, jumping rope workout, yoga workout and ball workout…

there are 4 exercises in the strength workout and you’ll need a step stool for these exercises- take it easy at first and check with your doctor before doing this or any exercise

push-up- (strengthens: chest, shoulders, back of arms, abs) place your hands on a step stool, shoulder width apart, straighten your legs behind you. Bend your elbows to lower your chest as close to the stool as you can, hold the low position and return to the high position, repeat 3 times.

leg-lift crunch- (strengthens: abs, front of thighs, good for balance) sit on the edge of the step stool with your hands behind you. Put your feet flat on the floor, heels together, knees together and almost straight. Lean back and bend and pull both knees up toward you by pulling with your abs. Lower your legs, but don’t let them touch the floor, repeat 5 times.

reverse lunge- (strengthens: thighs, calves, stretches hips and improves balance) stand on the step stool and take a big step back with your right leg, landing on the ball of your foot. Bring both fists to your waist, elbows back. Bend your right knee a little and your left knee at a 90 degree angle over your left foot. Step back up on the stool, switch legs, repeat 4 times.

triceps dip- (for backs of arms, shoulders, abs, fronts of thighs) sit on the step stool with your hands grasping the front edge. Put your heels on the floor, knees almost straight. Slowly lower yourself off the stool toward the floor by bending your elbows and lift your right leg.Press up with your arms as you lower your foot, switch legs and repeat 5 times.


lost & replaced

If you lose or break something and can’t remember where or when you bought it, you might be able to replace it…

broken china, crystal & lost silver- look on the back of a plate for the china pattern’s name, or take a picture of a crystal glass or piece of silver and send it to the manufacturer to find out about getting a replacement piece. Also try: or

paint & replacement tiles- most home stores can mix the exact color of paint that you need if you take a sample to the store. Replacing broken tiles is trickier, if you don’t have any luck at the home stores or local tile stores, try If you can’t find a match anywhere you might be able to remove a tile from a place that is covered by furniture or isn’t noticeable, but be careful you might break more tiles trying to remove a tile. You can also use the broken tile as an opportunity to make a decorating statement. If your tiles are white, take out the broken tile and 3 more extra tiles and make a black diamond, or multicolor square, if it looks great do it a couple more places.

ruined fabric- if you have a set of matching pillows and 1 of them has a huge stain that you can’t hide by turning over the pillow, you might be able to replace the fabric and have a new pillow made. Open a seam and look for the fabric manufacturer’s name, send them a picture and ask them if the fabric is still available. Websites that might help are:,, or the American Society of Interior Designers website might be able to help,

DIY furniture- missing pieces from put-it-together-yourself furniture could make a grown man cry! but most manufactures have all of the extra pieces that you need. Look for a phone number on the instruction sheet, there are also the serial numbers for each part. It might be quicker and easier If you’re missing one screw to take your instruction sheet to the nearest hardware store and get what you’re missing.

lost buttons-there are a few ways to get around losing a button: first look inside the clothes for an extra button sewn into the seam on a little tab, try a fabric store, take off a button at the collar if it won’t be missed and replace the missing button, replace all the buttons or try or you can call Tender Buttons and send them a picture of the button that you’re looking for and ask if they have one (312) 337-7033

saving $

I’m a college student and besides paying rent the utility bill is huge. Is there anything I can do so that I’ll have some money left at the end of the month?

It’s not good when your money runs out before the month does but utility bills are something that you have some control over. It’s not true that you waste energy by turning lights off and then turning them on again every time you go into and out of a room, so turn them off every time you leave a room, don’t leave them on all day. Set your computer to “sleep” after 30 minutes when you’re not using it. If you’re really serious about saving money, when you know that you’re not going to use your computer for several hours turn it off completely AND also unplug the surge protector. Monitors also use energy so turn them off too. BTW you are wasting expensive gas letting your car idle. If you are going to be sitting in your car with it idling for more than 2 minutes turn it off and restart it. You will be helping the environment and saving money. You won’t save a lot but it will add up…

caught you!

Dear Ask Mom- an acquaintance called me and asked if I wanted to go out to lunch with her. I said that I had to work and would call her soon to get together. Of course I ran into her at Bloomingdale’s when I was shopping with a friend when I was supposed to be working!  I felt bad and had no idea what to say, I wanted to run away what should i have said?

Don’t run away, it will only make you look even worse. You should speak first and take control of the situation. Unfortunately this time one lie leads to another, just say, “at the last minute I found out that I wasn’t working today, and I just ran into Tallula, want to join us?” Don’t go into a long explanation it will only make you look guiltier, and your punishment will be if she says yes to your offer!

Oscar winning cake

if you’re having an Oscar dessert and cookie party this is a perfect cake…

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Whipped Mascarpone
 (this is one of the amazing recipes from Smitten Kitchen)

cake ingredients- (this is a really rich, small, round, flat cake)

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup red wine, any kind you like
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

topping ingredients-

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup chilled heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla.
  • Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula.
  • Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate.
  • Cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.

topping  preparation-

  • Whip mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form — don’t overwhip. Dollop generously on each slice of cake. It can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

good fixes

if you do too much this week end…

eat too much- if you get indigestion from eating everything at the party:

  • don’t lie down for at least 3 or 4 hours
  • take a walk for 30 minutes to speed up your digestion
  • don’t take antacids
  • wear loose clothes ( the pressure from tight clothes really will make it worse

drink too much- 

  • DON’T drive
  • drink lots of liquids (water or sports drinks) before going to bed
  • don’t drink anything that’s too hot or too cold
  • eat bland carbs (toast)
  • take an aspirin or ibuprofen for a headache
  • Pepto-Bismol will help your upset stomach (be careful it contains aspirin)

stay up all night-

  • some caffeine is ok, but don’t over dose
  • take a short nap (not too long or you’ll interfere with another night’s sleep)
  • eat protein for breakfast
  • lean meat and cheese for lunch and dinner, avoid simple carbs totally

computer OD-

  • relax your eyes by looking at-a-distance
  • try some eye drops to refresh your eyes
  • take out your contact lenses and wear your glasses
  • close your eyes and cover them with a cool wet washcloth


last winter work out

This is set 3, if you have been following my winter work out sets and I hope that you’re feeling good…keep it up and let me know how you’re doing, you can also let me know if there’s anything special that I can help you with…

G) “Reverse Leg Lift” – Lay on  your stomach and cross your arms in front of you to rest your chin.  Wedge one 5 lb weight between your ankles.  Lift both feet until your legs are perpendicular to the ceiling. Slowly lower your legs down to just above the ground on either side of the weight.  Slowly lift them back up towards the ceiling.  Repeat 10 times.

H) “Windshield Wiper” – Lay on your side with your left leg resting atop your right.  Lift your left leg toward the ceiling as high as you can. Slowly lower your left leg to just above your right leg.  Then, lift your left leg again toward the ceiling.  Repeat 12 times, and then switch legs and repeat 12 times more.

I ) “Bridge Up” – Begin by laying on your back with your arms resting at your sides.  Bend your knees so that your feet are resting on the floor.  Then, lift your hips up off the ground toward the ceiling as high as you can.  Hold this position for 5 seconds.  Slowly lower down.  Repeat 10 times.

don’t diet ever again

I could probably wallpaper a room with all of the emails telling me that your diet is not working! what a surprise… don’t diet, try these things instead…

If you can cut out 200 calories a day (that’s really not much) you will lose 20 pounds in a year! Part of the secret is knowing when you are weak- if you snack watching tv, don’t do it, learn how to knit. If you snack at your desk, don’t keep food anywhere near your desk, if you look forward to a great dinner all day then plan your food all day with dinner in mind. Three meals and a small snack midday is all the food you should ever eat in a day, and dessert should be a treat on weekends not everyday with every meal!

Eat colored food mostly. Plan your food by colors green, red and orange food are always good. If you won’t eat fruit and vegetables drink them in smoothies and soup. Next time you want a snack make sure it’s colorful

Eat less meat and poultry. Eat a lot of: non-starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, seeds, beans and fish.

Eat polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, don’t eat saturated or trans fats. Fat has more calories per gram than carbs or protein.

Eat less. You can lose weight by just eating less and never eat until you’re really full or feel like you ate too much. When you eat at a restaurant ask the waiter to bring you a take out container with your meal and soon as you get your food cut it in half and take it off your plate, then you can eat everything without feeling bad. The slower you eat the longer your meal will last…and the more you will enjoy it

Eat, don’t drink. There are a lot of calories in drinks and diet drinks are bad for you. Only drink water and don’t eat while you drink. Drink a big glass of water and drink it before you eat, you’ll already start to feel full when you begin eating

Don’t eat processed food. If you buy something in a box or bag or frozen- read the label very carefully so that you’re not eating something that you don’t want. If you can try to stay out of the middle of the grocery store, that’s where the snacks and boxes of prepared foods are found.


I quit

Dear Mom: I quit. I’m tired of everything and I’m not getting ahead, what should I do?

You could quit, but it’s not going to solve anything. You can’t always control your situation or the people that may be keeping you from getting ahead but you can control the most important  things-yourself and the affect that you have on other people. If you’re always complaining and have nothing but bad news whenever you have a meeting or run into someone that you work for, the mood that you’re leaving them in is not good. Always have a story ready about your last success (even if it was awhile ago) and smile, look like you’re happy doing what you’re doing, leave someone else smiling, a little humor goes a long way and take every opportunity to speak to anyone that you work for about something good, don’t avoid the boss. People may not remember everything you said but they will remember how you made them feel and people would rather be with happy people than unhappy people, fake it if you have to.

said and done

Hi Ask Mom- I’m so frustrated. I had an argument the other day with someone and I know that I was right but I’m a terrible arguer and I lost because I got so emotional that I couldn’t think.  How can I win an argument when I’m right?

Stick with the facts and you won’t get so emotional. Know what you’re talking about because you never have to remember what you said if you tell the truth. Here’s the real secret to winning an argument- if you concede that some of what your opponent is saying may be right you will make it easier for the other person to lose and then you can make your point that your argument is still better and you’re right! The End