Blog Posts by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

  • Girlfriend getaways for the broke, adventurous, and the stressed

    If 2009 was the year of the staycation, 2010 is the year of the girlfriend getaway. And really, it stands to reason that after staying home and drinking pina coladas on the couch while watching Law & Order, you would be ready for a vacation that looks less like your average Tuesday night. If you're feeling burned out and overburdened, it could be time to plan a trip with your lady friends where you can have chat fests, get serious life advice, and laugh until you beg for mercy. Whether you're on a tight budget or are ready for a bona fide adventure, here are some ideas to get your planning started.

    Channeling your inner cowgirl
    If you want to learn to throw a lasso, drive cattle, or channel a more womanly version of A River Runs Through It, it's as easy as saying yee-haw. Sisters on the Fly organizes trips like this in Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming and Oregon. Or sign-up for a week of cowgirl camp at the Double E Ranch in New Mexico or the Historic Pines Ranch in Colorado. If you just

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  • 8 natural, no-make-up-necessary ways to look (and feel) glowingly gorgeous

    Sure, you could slap on some self-tanner and dust on some mineral make-up and call it a day, but these eight ideas take a more holistic view of looking (and feeling) your best. Namely, that how you live your life shows up on your face. Good, clean living punctuated with random acts of kindness? It can result in gorgeous, glowing skin from the inside out.

    Read more life-improving ideas from Real-Life Makeover>>

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    Photos credit: Getty Images

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  • Etiquette expert Elizabeth Post dies, takes all hope for good manners with her

    photo via Emily Post Institutephoto via Emily Post InstituteEtiquette writer Elizabeth "Libby" Post died on Saturday in Naples, Florida. The granddaughter-in-law of social mores expert Emily Post, Elizabeth took the helm of the Emily Post Institute following the death of its namesake in 1965. She was a longtime columnist at Good Housekeeping, wrote several etiquette books, and took on the task of keeping Emily Post's books au courant as manners relaxed in the 1960s. Fifty years after our culture first started loosening its belt on formality, have manners relaxed too much?

    White gloves and ladies in hats are ancient history. But in recent years, we've also said so-long to some of the most time-honored traditions of civilization. The hand-written note. Standing to offer a seat. Rising when a woman gets up from the table. Even something as simple as the childhood lesson of please and thank you. Elizabeth Post would have suggested sending a bouquet to thank a hostess for her dinner party (arriving with them in hand gives her yet another task to

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  • Simple, non-cheesy ways to make over your self-image

    Sometimes it seems self-loathing is a favorite national pastime. But look: if you're denying yourself a good life until you feel like you've done something to deserve it, you could be waiting forever. Wouldn't it be kind of radical to start accepting ourselves the way we are right this second? Not when we lose 10 pounds, not when we've paid off our mountain of debt, not when we reach the top rung of our career ladder, but right now. Here are nine ideas to get you going.

    #1 Dig through the photo albums.
    It doesn't matter if your childhood wasn't perfect, and if you didn't grow up on sitcom, it probably wasn't. But that's not the point. What we're after is photographic evidence of a time when we were free from the negative ideas we've collected about ourselves as we've grown up. Maybe you're playing in the sand at the beach, doing a cartwheel in the front yard, or totally engrossed in a coloring book. Whatever you're doing, chances are you weren't ruminating on your personal limitations,

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  • Real-life expert: I keep my family on a super-tight budget

    One of the many glorious things about the Internet is the way it bridges distance and difference, connecting us to people with stories we might never have known. The best example of this for me personally has been meeting Sara Rose. Though our material realities are pretty different -- she lives in South Dakota with two kids; I'm childless in Brooklyn -- we're kindreds at heart, both interested in living well on a very small budget. Here, Sara Rose, speaks candidly about the financial realities of the recession and its effects on her family, and her perspective on the importance of giving back, no matter how little you have.

    How has the economy in the past year affected the way your family views and spends money?

    I finished school and realized I had a fairly useless degree. My husband, Nolan, got a great job with the University of South Dakota, but we still weren't making ends meet. Basically we were living paycheck to paycheck and despite our best efforts not to, beyond our means.

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  • 10 of the very best natural beauty products

    Natural beauty products use to be all hippied-out, glam-free, and redolent of patchouli, but that's definitely not the case anymore. These ten products make for luxurious bath times, effective skin solutions, and best of all, are utterly in the spirit of Earth Day.

    Get more beauty ideas on Real-Life Makeover>>

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  • Could turning off the television change your life?

    Unlike most holidays that see us gobbling various meat products and passed out in a food-induced haze, TV Turnoff Week is a holiday that aims to increase our physical and mental health and well-being. What's the point of turning off the TV for a week, you ask? What's the harm in watching Dancing with the Stars?

    The big picture problem is that every year in industrialized nations, screen time -- including televisions, computers, iPods, games, videos, and cell phones -- is on the rise. In the US and other industrialized nations around the world, the average daily usage has reached 9 hours per day, not including work time. That's a second full-time job! On average, people watch 4 hours of television and then spend another 4 plus hours with computers, games, video, iPods and cell phones. Even if that seems like a lot of time, why should you have to give up your precious recreational time watching The Real Housewives of New York? The reason, according to the TV Turnoff organization, is

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  • 12 ultimate feel-good tunes

    Rolling Stone placed their entire archive online yesterday, which got us to thinking about some of our most favorite head-bopping, toe-tapping tunes. "Music, like play and laughter," writes Kay Redmond Jamison in her book Exuberance, "increases emotional arousal and disinhibits; it rewards the participant for passionate engagement in the here and now." In other words, turning up your favorite jams and dancing around the living room enhances your sense of pleasure and can even boost your mood. "Music is used to induce positive emotions in research subjects," continues Jamison. In an effort to boost your mood, we put together a list of some of the best smile-inducing, warm fuzzy, and fist-pumping anthems. Some of these songs are just plain happy-sounding hits, some have great driving beats (perfect for a workout mix) and some have the kind of lyrics that make you want to go out and "climb ev'ry mountain."

    What did we miss? What's your instantly-in-a-good-mood theme song?

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  • Has the recession changed your relationship to money?

    Economists say the recession is ending but many of us don't feel it yet. We're still looking for a job, using food stamps, and doing everything to cut the grocery bill. But even for those of us still slogging through, tough times test our mettle, and they can also bring a few life-bettering realizations with them, too.

    Take me, for example: having purse strings pulled tight drove home lessons I knew intellectually but suddenly felt in my bones were true. I went back to the library and remembered how those stacks of books and the quiet hush of pages flipping is the backdrop to a world of knowledge unfathomably huge. There's a magic to it that big box book stores just can't touch. I learned that coffee from a can will do just fine and that Pandora is like manna to a music lover. And I learned something I had always suspected was true for myself but suddenly knew for sure: time is worth more than money. There I was, poor as a church mouse, and happier than ever.

    This is not meant to

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  • The beauty of small change: 10 teeny steps to change your life for the better

    Most of us are drawn to dramatic change, if only for the entertainment factor. We love extreme makeovers, drastic diets, big moves. After the stasis of day-in, day-out, a big shake-up is so satisfying. Woo-hoo, life is really changing! The trouble, of course, is when we try to make over our lives from top to bottom and before the weekend is over, we're right back to our old ways. We creatures of habit can't handle too much change all at once. So what if we set ourselves up to succeed by implementing small changes? Instead of deciding to do a 10-day detox, how about just getting one more serving of vegetables a day? It might not have the drama factor, but when you give yourself one little life alteration and then fully adapt to it before taking on something else, you set yourself up for lasting change. Pick one of these practically instant life-improvers to try this upcoming week.

    1. Make your afternoon snack a fruit or veggie. Baby carrots and hummus or an apple and a wedge of
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