Thursday, December 19, 2013

Friday Favorites: Holiday Gift edition

Can you believe it's already that time where we are considered  "late on on Christmas shopping?" It seems like I just yesterday I was  planning out my meal plan for Thanksgiving. And don't even mention that I will soon have to get used to writing the date 2014, just as "2013" was starting to register. But one thing I'm not quite sick of hearing are "corny" Christmas jokes, so my apologies if you are...

But in all seriousness, I have selected 12 of the best gifts around. They are easy to pick up at stores such as Target and CVS or very easy to make at home. From your dad to your bestie, I have definitely covered something for everyone on your list. So follow my guide  below and you'll avoid having to spend your  whole weekend completely dedicated to waiting in long lines. I don't know about you all, but I plan on spending my Saturday seeing Anchorman 2 rather than trying to find a parking space at the mall.
Links to: Pictures #1, #2#3
Links to: Pictures #1, #2, #3
Links to Pictures: #1, #2, #3

Links to: Pictures #1, #2, #3

I hope that these gift ideas provided inspiration for your holiday shopping list. All and all, I truly believe that the best gifts come from the heart.

Still need a gift for a teacher or your hairdresser? How about my homemade Sweet & Salty granola recipe. Looking for something a little more creative to bring to a holiday party? How about my Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, stored in mason jars?

Whatever you do, make sure you don't let the happiness intended during the holiday season pass by you. Take time out to spend with your loved ones, that is truly the best gift you can give them. Create a great Friday everyone. Below is your daily dose of inspiration, inspired by my new little loved ones...
Cousins: Remi & Stella
Photo Courtesy of: Kristin Haus
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Thrifty Thursdays: A Last Minute DIY Holiday Gift Idea

Lately I've been obsessed with mason jars. I drink from them...
The mason jar cover, the "Chug-a-lug"
can be purchased here for $24.

I store my homemade almond butter in them...
Mix ingredients in food processor,
 slowly adding in olive oil until smooth & creamy.
And I even hand out my "Make it Monday" Red Velvet Cupcakes in them...
Click here for Make it Monday's
Red Velvet Cupcakes
w/Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
Photo Courtesy of: Photoblog
So needless to say when I was brainstorming what kind of holiday gifts to make this year, I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate the good ol' mason jar.

And not to mention... when I went to Target last weekend, there was a wide variety of all different shapes, sizes, and colors of mason jars to choose from-all on sale! So I grabbed a shopping cart (of course the one with the squeaky wheel) and went wild.

Below is a delicious homemade granola recipe, perfect for giving out as gifts in mason jars this holiday season. The granola will make your whole house smell absolutely delicious, and believe it or not, it tastes even better than it smells- I've been putting it on top of my yogurt all week. So without further ado...

Everyone loves granola, especially homemade. So this is a great gift for everyone from your hair dresser to child's teacher. Hand it out  this holiday season or as a "just because" gift anytime.

I even keep a mason jar of the granola with a blank gift tie in my purse, just in case I run into anyone that day.  Below is a mason jar assembly tutorial, along with a thrifty tip on how to make a scooper from a jug.

Scooper Tutorial: Cut the top part of the handle. Then cut along side edges of your plastic jug. 

I hope you all enjoyed today's Thrifty Thursday last minute gift idea. Don't forget to pin the granola recipe in order to keep it for whenever you need a last minute gift.

Create a great Thursday everyone! Below is your daily dose of inspiration inspired by friendship. After all, aren't you excited to gift your friends with this granola? I know I can't wait to give mine out this weekend. 
Joshua, age 2
Photo Courtesy of: Liz McDonald

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays: True Love

Nicole McCarthy & Kevin Devine
on the night of their engagement, 9/20/2013,
Boston Seaport Harbor.

and now for Wednesday's dose of inspiration...
Photo Courtesy of: Kristin Joyce

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Take Out Tuesdays: 4 Essential, Health Tips for Ordering Anywhere

Photos courtesy of : Google

I worked as a waitress for five years and I definitely made the most tips during the holiday season. People don't have the time to cook and are far too exhausted to worry about doing the dishes. So they find themselves going out to eat and ordering take out more and more in the winter time.

While this is great for a waitress's pocket, it is often not so great for waistlines. That is why I have decided to make Tuesday's in December "Take Out Tuesdays." So far I have covered posts on Chinese and PizzaBut today I am doing things a little different and covering the basics for ordering any type of take out food.

From Fast Food to Pub, there are 4 essential, healthy tips that can be used everywhere, whether dining in or ordering out.

When dining out, it is quite possible to consume well over your daily, recommended caloric intake within minutes of being seated, But, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to get the salad with bland dressing and nothing on it in order to "survive" a meal out. 

Tip#1. Don't eat the whole chip basket before your meal comes. 

Photo Courtesy of: Google
When any sort of "munchies" are placed in front of you, it is a typical behavior to start grabbing handful after handful. . Whether it is a free basket of chips/fries/Chinese noodles/rolls that is set on your table, we often begin  robotic-ally, shoveling the food into our mouths. But if you are aware of this habit, you can start to eat  more mindfully. 

Set rules. For example, know that after you eat 12 chips or 1/2 roll, that you are going to stop. And  if you don't think you can control yourself quite yet, don't allow any of the "freebies" around you.


Tip #2. The most important tip to remember when  dining in or ordering any kind of take-out is to be aware of your surroundings. 

For Mexican food, this means knowing that those chips will be set down in front of you prior to walking into the restaurant. By placing awareness on the situation at hand, you can be better prepared and  have a plan in mind prior to ordering. 


You know that the last time you had Mexican, those chips were so salty that they made you crave a margarita, and then another, leaving you with a feeling of being so full that you were unable to touch the meal you paid for. 
Knowing what happened last time, you can ask the waitress to remove the basket from the table prior to getting "wild"; and when ordering take-out, make a point to not have  the free chips included with your meal.There are far better things ahead at meal time anyway...

Tip #3: Call out the "voice villain" in your head.

It is so very important not to beat yourself up  for the last time you went wild on the chips, or whatever "poor" food choice you made in the past. Being aware of this "voice villain" will help you to understand that this is merely just a feeling and not a representation of what you look like.

I once read a powerful magazine article about a girl who took a picture in the same shorts and sports bra every morning for 30 days. Each morning she recorded how she felt, such as "felt really good about myself today" or "feeling really heavy and uncomfortable today." In the magazine article, they showed all 30 pictures she took and you know what, she looked EXACTLY the same on each and everyday. She was finally able to see physical proof that her "feelings" were simply thoughts she had about her body and not what everyone actually saw. 

Like the girl in thr magazine, you too are not physically changing drastically each day, despite any negative thoughts that you tell so. If you are living a healthy lifestyle and occasionally indulge, then there’s no need to think twice about that “voice villain.”

 I tell you the girl’s 30-day, picture story so that you understand the importance of  living healthy lifestyle, not a diet, not a week-plan, not a fad. but a positive life for yourself. 

Tip #4: Know the Ordering Basics: Always order dressing on the side, ask for the  "Lighter" version, & at the start of your meal, place half of the entree in a to-go box. 

Photo Courtesy of: Google

  • Always order sauces/dressings "On the Side": When eating salad, dip your fork in the dressing before each bite rather than dousing it on top. You will be amazed by how much flavor you get out of every bite. Do the same with all sauces. 
  • Use the word "light" when ordering: Always go "light" on the cheese and choose the healthier cooking option such as baking/broiled/grilled.  

  • Take it to Go:  At the start if your meal, ask for a to-go box, and put one half aside for tomorrow. Most leftovers make great omelets the next day.  For example, take leftover chicken fajitas, throw the fajita mixture in an skillet and load it up with  extra veggies and salsa as a great omelet filling. You can do the same with pizza toppings, as well.  Make it a habit, that half your meal goes home with you so have better control of your eating habits at dinner.  

Thank you all for taking the time out of your day for committing to a healthier lifestyle for yourself. I hope that you enjoyed the break from the specifically themed, take-out Tuesdays to bring it back to the basics. 

I encourage you to come back to this articlr as a reminder for setting good eating habits wherever you go. Feel free to favorite this post, pin the tips on Pinterest as a visual reminder, or jot them down on the memo pad in your phone. Taking out those few extra moments in your day to learn the basics will make a heck of a difference. In fact, for me it is worth a lifetime of silencing that "food villain" voice. 

Create a great Tuesday everyone! Below is your daily dose of inspiration dedicated to anyone who has felt for even just a moment not worthy enough..,

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Sofia

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Make it Mondays: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Printer-Friendly Recipe

Recently, the Make-It-Monday series has featured a lot of dessert recipes. To me, the holidays revolves around baking. I am often giving baked goods for holiday gifts, and it is definitely my "go to" with what to make for holiday parties.                                                                          

Tomorrow is my mom's office, holiday party and  her staff has requested that I bake something for it. And since they had specifically requested a dessert, I knew that I couldn't bake just the standard batch of cookies, I had to bring my A-game. I began brainstorming creative holiday recipes and, as such, I decided to head over to Pinterest in search of inspiration..

Once on Pinterest,  I clicked on to "My recipe Index" board and looked back at desserts I had pinned. Suddenly, I  came across a DIY dessert idea I had pinned for my friend Kim's wedding. A bride and groom had given take-home desserts stored in mason jars as party favors.                            
I loved the idea of personalizing each dessert by giving each guest mason jars to take home with them. And so I headed out to Target, where I found 12- 8 oz. Bell Jars on sale for $7.19

Now that I had determined how I should my serve my dessert, I still needed to figure out what I  was going to bake. I knew that I wanted my dessert to feel festive, and so I decided that I needed to incorporate the color red somehow. That's when I thought of Red Velvet Cupcakes...

And I have to say they are out of control! The secret is definitely using a little sour cream in both the cupcake and frosting recipes. Below you will find the red velvet cupcake and cream cheese frosting recipes, along with a step-by-step tutorial for assembling the cupcakes in the mason jars.

For the cupcakes, you will need...

For the cream cheese frosting, you will need...

Now its time to assemble the cupcakes and frosting...
 I hope that you all have had a wonderful Monday and that you feel inspired to create a festive dessert this holiday season. Below is Monday's dose of inspiration. See you all tomorrow!

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