First thing’s first: “The fashion industry can be brutal.” This is how Ashlee Nik, Chief Executive Officer of fashion brand ashlyn’d, begins her advice to any aspiring fashion entrepreneur. She continues: “Do not let anyone bring you down. If you have an idea that you think is a strong one, go for it, and do not give up. Work harder than you think you need to and more than you ever have before and it will pay off.” In a sea of sameness, of copycats and tired themes, this advice is critical. As brutal as the fashion industry can be, it certainly demands people who go for it despite the critics and naysayers. And that’s exactly what Nik and her team did.

Ashlyn’d was founded by Ashlee Nik, Denise Lewinstein, and Victoria Kochamba. (The playful brand name is a fusion of the names of the founders: Ashl is for Ashlee, lyn is Victoria’s middle name, and the D is for Denise.) All hailing from fashion backgrounds, the ladies felt that the industry was missing unique and affordable clutches and evening bags. Nik explains, “The inspiration behind the brand has truly been the idea of creating clutches that are entirely unexpected. Using acrylics that look like marbles, shells, and woods with custom exotic finishes have allowed us to achieve this look.” Other styles of clutches are inspired by the designs of snow globes—filled with various items for an awesome effect.

“I think that the difference between an ashlyn’d clutch and another brand is that ashlyn’d bags are all truly conversation pieces. From the movement of the bags that are filled with sand and pearls to the quirkiness of styles made of real chalkboard that you can write on, ashlyn’d clutches distinguish themselves by being truly unexpected but still wearable,” says Nik.

Affordability in order to be attainable to the average customer was another goal. And most importantly, delivering quality was a crucial part of the brand’s DNA. Nik states, “I always had a fond appreciation for quality goods that were handcrafted as opposed to having a machine-made assembly line produce the bags. In an attempt to help bring manufacturing back to the United States and maintain quality control, the ashlyn’d team chose to work with Los Angeles-based artists to construct our clutches.”

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Jonathan Adler for Uniqlo

Jonathan Adler, the bright and happy master of geometric prints, splashed his playfulness across Uniqlo’s apparel for an unexpected collaboration. Caroline A. Wong investigates.

Photos by Alexander Herman

Of all the directions that Jonathan Adler could have gone, I didn’t expect him to go with Uniqlo. Sure, maybe a Target collaboration. Maybe even Kohl’s. But Uniqlo, with its solid colors and basics beyond basics, seemed a odd partner for the designer who sells breast-covered vases. Nevertheless, I did my duty and took the line for a test spin. After all, with price points at $30 and below, how could I NOT? I owe it to you, Tasties!

The collaboration actually makes for a happy marriage. Uniqlo’s classic shapes let Adler’s bold aesthetic shine, and the prints are recognizably of the Adler family. The fabric is thin…not quite tissue thin, but I would have liked it thicker. Regardless, it’s a line worth shopping if you’re an Adler fan.

It would be so easy to go the conservative route when styling with this collection: Bold print, jeans, blazer, heels. That’s not a bad combo; it’s actually perfect for work…but if you go bold with the print AND with your accessories, it could make for a great artsy look to do Adler justice. I went with a mustard yellow bag to complement the orangey color of the top. Topping off with a hat adds a bit of a wanderer vibe, like you just got off an airplane and the taxi cab dropped you off there. It’s playful, fresh, and much less buttoned up than you’d be in a blazer. With a boho sweater and edging moto boots to complete the look, you’d just need an artist’s portfolio to tote around while wandering any creative mecca!

Good Eats

By Colette Choi

Tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants, helping to prevent disease and promote health. So when I got my hands on an amazing new organic tomato sauce from Steve Schirripa (of The Sopranos fame), I knew I had to try it, if only from a beauty perspective!

To be honest, when I first tasted Uncle Steve’s sauce, I thought it was a bit bland…BUT I soon realized why: The sauces are pure, made with imported organic Italian tomatoes with no paste, puree, or sugars added. It’s simply nature at its finest and freshest. In our oversaturated world of processed foods, it sometimes shocks our systems to come in contact with something so close to the vine. As I continued cooking with the sauce, I started eating spoonfuls straight out of the jar!

I cooked up some penne according to the package directions, chopped up some garlic, and prepped some Italian sausage. I like removing the skin around the sausage to create bite-sized portions that are more ground-up instead of sliced. After cooking the sausage and garlic together with a bit of olive oil (warmed until sausage is cooked throughout), I added Uncle Steve’s Tomato Basil sauce and warmed it all together before adding the penne back in. With a bit of shaved parmesan on top and a glass of Moscato, I had a divine dinner. And I’m pretty sure all those antioxidants are making my skin glow!

Uncle Steve’s sauces come in three varieties (Tomato Basil, Marinara, and Arrabiata) and are produced in America. You can purchase some antioxidant-loaded sauce for yourself at

Vanessa Ray

By Rosie Ryan

On one hand, the idea of wearing your iPhone around your neck sounds like a no brainer, especially when you find yourself in a pocket-less outfit, but then again it’s not something you see every day…yet. That’s what Vanesa Rey wants to change with her blossoming tech accessory line.

When manufacturers and vendors, most of them men, ask her this question, her response is yes. “[Men] may not know this because [they’ve] never had to pull data from an email and report on it in a meeting wearing a pencil skirt and a blouse with no pockets.”

Through her experience in the fast-paced entertainment industry, specifically international film publicity, she saw a glaring need for tech accessories that were functional and, equally as important, fashionable.

“As a 20-something working woman, I was constantly on the go, making tech gadgets instrumental in running my life. I was responding to hundreds of emails a day, traveling around the world, having to take photos of events and send to my higher ups back in home office in Los Angeles, see what was trending on social media, and trying (most of the time unsuccessfully) to stay connected to my loved ones.”

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We Are Not Made Equally


Most people think a calorie is a calorie, right? You know, 200 calories of salad is still 200 calories, so it must be the same as 200 calories of chips.

You Tasties are too smart for that.

Calories are the most important factor of food to measure if your goal is weight maintenance or weight loss. A lot of people say 1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories. These are excess calories, and most people reason that it doesn’t matter if they’re from protein, fat, or carbs. This is a very basic measure of what it takes to lose weight. However, what really should be your concern is how you ate those calories.

The nutrient density of your food refers to how many nutrients you’re getting per calorie. It’s the ratio of nutrient content to energy content. Nutrient-dense foods are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc, but low in calories. They’re packed full of the “good stuff.”

You want to be eating foods with a very HIGH nutrient density—it’s a better way to spend your daily calories. So, 200 calories of these foods are actually better for you than 200 calories of foods with a low nutrient density.

Now, calories are still calories. Excess calories are still excess weight in the long run. However, eating more nutrient dense foods will keep you full and satisfied, resulting in fewer calories consumed overall.

Luckily, nutrient density is easy to find online. You can Google “nutrient density of ___” and find at least an estimate of it in seconds. If that doesn’t work, food’s “ANDI score” is the measure of nutrient density, so try that.

Here are some important ANDI scores to know. Remember, the higher the number, the better!


Boost Your Libido With Yoga

By Lisa Eberly

Letter Y Dropcapoga has obvious health benefits: It increases flexibility, reduces stress, builds strength, even induces enlightenment. But did you know that it can also do wonders for….your sex life?

Oooh yeah, this wonder workout has a number of poses that have emotional benefits, as well as some physical ones that are sure to fire up your bedroom poses. Unlike men, who hold their stress in their shoulders, women tend to keep stress locked up in our hips. This makes it difficult to enjoy sex when we’re under any sort of stress (read: all the time!) which is why we should devote time to releasing this negative stress in our bodies. Yoga affects libido from several different angles, mainly by physically increasing natural energy, confidence, sensuality, intimacy, and better orgasms.

It boosts energy by helping you achieve a higher quality of sleep, allowing you to spend more quality time awake in bed, if you know what I mean. I find that when I’m confident in my appearance, I enjoy sex much more than when I’m not feeling so hot. Yoga builds confidence by preventing weight gain and building lean muscle tone, amping up both your sex drive and your partner’s! Sensuality is a quality yoga provides that most other workouts can’t give you. A natural sensuality stems from the awareness of body sensation that yoga practice teaches you to savor. I can sometimes find myself in my head during sex rather than present in my body (You know how it is: Did I lock my car? Oh shoot, I forgot the laundry! Hmm…I should update my to do list…). Yoga helps keep me in the moment so I enjoy the experience between the sheets.

Another essential element of libido achieved in yoga is intimacy. This is reached through the vulnerability of yoga positions. Many women find themselves uncomfortable in more vulnerable positions in the bedroom, keeping them from relaxing and enjoying themselves. Let me tell you: If you can find yourself enjoying a full wheel in yoga shorts, you can find yourself enjoying any sexual position!


The Post Holiday Bleh

I get it. You get it. Everyone knows what it is. It’s that sluggish post-holiday bleh. It’s that extra couple pounds. The added effort to get out of bed in the morning. The something that keeps you craving Christmas cookies and comfy couches even after January 1st. The real question is: how do you get rid of it?

In order to cleanse your body from all the bleh, you have to know what bleh actually is. Bleh is what accumulates when you consume excess calories. It’s not fat (though it makes fat), but rather, it’s free radicals that build up with excess food consumption. Processed foods, like the packaged cookies and sweets we all love in December, are the biggest culprit. Alcohol (remember NYE?) is up there too.

How to you flush your body of the bleh? You cleanse it.

No matter how healthy you are, your body takes in a lot of crap, especially during the holidays. Everyone eats junk now and then, healthy packaged foods are still packaged foods, and even if you are 100% clean eating natural foods, you’re still breathing. As long as you’re breathing, you’re building up yucky free radicals in the body.

Oxygen causes the buildup of free radicals. This is a wholeee long process that takes place in the mitochondria (oh yeah, remember high school bio?). In the meantime, oxygen, free radicals, aging, cancer, and other diseases, slow your metabolism…the list goes on. If the human body were a bicycle, oxygen is rust. So, before I get too off-track, let’s answer this: What does this have to do with cleanses?

Well, antioxidants are pretty much free radical killers. You all know berries and other foods have antioxidants, but I bet you didn’t know that your body naturally makes antioxidants without food, called superoxide dismutases. But, the process of eating and metabolizing food turns off these little guys, which further adds to the free radicals running wild.

When you are on a cleanse, a juice one or a calorie restricted one, you give your body the chance to not only cleanse the liver and other metabolic organs of the holiday cookies and cakes, but more importantly, your body has the time to build up its natural antioxidants (primarily SOD2) to alleviate the buildup of free radicals. These natural antioxidants prevent aging, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and so many other diseases. But, in the meantime, they get rid of the bleh feeling. Antioxidants can give you energy and get you back on track, ready to start the year off right.

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Holiday Stunner

By Breana Powell

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The First Affair

By Rosie Ryan

It’s hardly a secret that many of our presidents have had one or two (or three or more) marital indiscretions. The most famous of them all being Monica Lewinski, the infamous White House intern who had “sexual relations” with former president Bill Clinton. Given the type of career-ending notoriety that Miss Lewinski faced after her affair went very, very public, it’s obvious that a sexual relationship with a president is risky business. So you can imagine that a story about such a relationship is bound to be juicy.

In brief, The First Affair is about Jamie McAlister who gets an internship at the White House just in time for the government to shut down. This propels Jamie and the other unpaid interns to fill the roles of the paid government workers, which ultimately leads her to a sexy late night encounter with the president, Gregory Rutland. Jamie very quickly finds it impossible to keep their affair a secret and confides in her closest friends—but she unfortunately tells the wrong person and word gets out. The rest of the novel deals with the political and emotional fallout after the truth is exposed.
I had the lucky opportunity to pick the brains behind the story, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. As with their united authorial front, the pair chose to respond to my questions as a cohesive unit. Oh, did I mention that these ladies are also the geniuses behind The Nanny Diaries?

The idea for any of McLaughlin and Kraus’s novels always tends to spring from questions and the curiosity to pursue those answers. “We’ve long been obsessed with these larger-than-life sexual political scandals and were dying to tell one from the woman’s point of view. Who is the young woman who would get seduced into this kind of relationship? What kind of man risks his entire career and historical standing? What are the demons running both of them?”

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Cross Check Your CrossFit

Becca Kantor goes behind the scenes to investigate the trendiest new workout phenomenon, Cross Fit. Her findings are shocking

rossFit reigns as one of the most popular forms of exercises due to its high intensity, high competitiveness, and pushing-yourself-to-the-brink mentality. Finding a CrossFit gym is easy—they pop up everywhere and anywhere, and seemingly all the time. But every CrossFit gym is not made equal, and poor quality control has led to concerns of high risks of injuries for participants.

The main problem lies in how little a person has to do to be considered CrossFit certified. For just $3,000 a year, a gym can be affiliated with the CrossFit brand. There is an application process, but one of the main requirements is that the person running the gym is a certified CrossFit trainer. And just how hard is it to get a CrossFit certification?

Turns out, not very. All that a Level 1 certification requires is that you be at least 17 years old and pass a $1,000 course. The course itself only lasts two days, from about 9 to 5. As long as you pass the course, in the form of a 50-multiple-choice-question exam, you’re a certified CrossFit trainer.

That must mean the course itself is comprehensive—right? In a way, it is, but maybe not in the right way. The course consists of lectures about CrossFit philosophy, nutrition and health information, exercise demonstrations, and instances where the trainees can learn exercise technique. While the course provides a breadth of information, it’s lacking in the coaching department. Many reviews of the course can be found online, and the common consensus appears to be that not enough time was spent on how to actually coach people. Because so much of CrossFit involves compound movements such as the squat or the clean and jerk, and because good form for these movements is essential in preventing injuries, the ability to teach and recognize good form is key. Yet it seems that all the Level 1 course certifies people to do is spout off facts about CrossFit’s mission, rather than how to effectively train people.

A Level 2 certification course does exist—for another $1,000—and its primary focus is on developing coaching skills. However, the CrossFit website strongly recommends that people have at least six months of training people using CrossFit methods before taking
the course. So if a first-time CrossFit trainer wants to gain more knowledge and skills about coaching, he has to actually train people on his own trial-and-error basis before getting the tried-and-true skills that would help make him a more effective trainer. Sounds a bit backwards, and plenty risky. How can people train effectively or be protected from injuries if their own trainer doesn’t even know how to do so?

Of course, qualified, experienced trainers do exist and do run effective CrossFit gyms. But the ease in which anyone, even a teenager, can obtain a certification to teach CrossFit methods reveals the overall lack of quality control that ruins the standing of these truly experienced CrossFit trainers.

“There is such a distinct variation between the CrossFit affiliate owner that has only taken the Level 1 class and has only been training people for a month and the owner who has 20 years of industry experience and has completed multiple nationally recognized certifications,” says Ethan Smith, a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Smith himself is not a CrossFit trainer but has attended CrossFit classes and commends the brand for what it has done for the fitness industry, such as popularizing compound movements and promoting a culture of hard work and discipline. Yet he does find the lack of quality control concerning, especially for people who are brand new to exercise. “Since CrossFit HQ seems uninterested in protecting its participants by adapting it workouts, message, and affiliate ownership requirements, the burden falls on the possibly first-time gym goer to evaluate the quality of the gym and its trainers in hopes of meeting their fitness goals and not getting injured in the process,” Smith says.

That’s a heavy burden for a rookie CrossFitter. Simply walking into a CrossFit affiliated gym is no guarantee of safety or expertise. Fortunately, Smith offers several tips for finding a good CrossFit gym with experienced trainers. Asking trainers what other certifications besides CrossFit Level 1 they have—as well as how long they’ve been training people—will reveal a lot about their experience level. Ask if the gym has a beginners or on-ramp program and how the trainer helps trainees reach individual goals. One last question that should definitely be asked is whether the gym does solely the workouts on the CrossFit official website or if the trainers write their own programs. “Writing their own program usually suggests some level of competence and knowledge,” Smith says.

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