These are a few of my favorite things

these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things-2

It’s almost New Year’s Eve, and for many people that means making resolutions. Studies have shown that by June, the majority of people have given up on their resolutions. Bummer. People love making lists, though. I know I do.

So, instead of a list of things you think you should be changing about yourself, might I interest you in a list of some of the thing that have made my life better and/or easier?  Bonus: no trips to the gym necessary. Double bonus: You might find some things on sale now that the holiday shopping season is over!

1.) Ninja® Professional Blender & Nutri Ninja® Cups. If you’ve been reading my blog or my Facebook page (pssst have you “liked” my page yet?) you know how much I love my green smoothies. This blender makes my life so much easier, and it’s simple enough for my 12 year old to use by herself. It’s not nearly as expensive as some of those fancy blenders/extractors and that’s just fine. I’ve been using it nearly daily since July and it never disappoints.

2.) Clairsonic Mia. I got this several years ago as a birthday gift. I use it twice a day, without fail. I get a lot of compliments on my skin. Maybe it’s the green smoothies. Anyway, I know this handy little face washing device cleans my skin far better than my weak little fingertips can. Love it, wouldn’t think of leaving it behind when I travel.

3.) Mr. Coffee mug warmer. $10, people. It’s a game changer for me. No longer is my morning coffee a game of “wait. too hot. wait. too hot. wait. too hot. SORRY TOO COLD”. Never before has a $10 item brought me so much joy. Ever since I got it for Christmas, I’ve been able to drink my entire mug of coffee from my bed without having to get up to microwave it, which if we’re being honest makes it taste horrible.

4.)  Aaptiv personal training app. You guys, I have a problem with motivating myself to go to the gym. Which is kind of a problem when you’re a wellness writer and nutrition student. I decided to try Aaptiv after reading about it several months ago and I was instantly hooked. They’ve worked out some of the earlier kinks and have added meditation to the mix. You can plug into a personal trainer-led workout on the elliptical, treadmill or bike, as well as be guided through yoga, meditation, and outdoor running routines. I’ve been going to the gym way more, have pushed myself out of my comfort zone every time, and am motivated to keep going back. It’s all audio based, and I love that the trainers interject helpful tips like keeping my shoulders relaxed when I’m running. Not only that, but all the workouts are set to great music you’ll really enjoy listening to. It’s $9.99/month, or if you sign up and pay for a whole year, it is $4.16/month. Totally worth it in my opinion. Read this Midweek Mashup for more on my Aaptiv obsession.

5.) Clean Freak dry shampoo. I have oily hair. And I’m always fiddling with it which makes it even oiler. I’m not one of those “I only wash my hair once a week” kind of gals. If I did that, I would look like Danny Zuko in Grease. So I keep this dry shampoo in my bathroom cabinet and use if for when I don’t have time am too lazy to take a shower but don’t want to scare the people around me. It’s got a really nice clean scent and doesn’t make your hair look like a powdered wig. Plus, it’s a mere $4.79 from Target.

So, there you go. Some of the things I love to use. Keep a look out for more lists in future weeks and months. I love trying new products and services, and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm.

***I was not compensated for writing about these products. I just truly enjoy them!

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Weekend Cocktails: SPECIAL HOLIDAY EDITION– The Cranberry Gin Fizz

 

“But it’s not the weekend!” you say. Yes, yes, I know. But this special recipe needs several days to come together in your fridge, and I want you to be able to enjoy it on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day or Hanukkah.

I can’t wait to serve the Cranberry Gin Fizz to my guests. If you hurry, you can still make this in time for Christmas Eve/the first day of Hanukkah (if you cut a day off of the “marinating” time), and it’s perfect timing for Christmas Day. It takes less than 10 minutes to pull together. It’s full of plump cranberries, lime zest, and a bit of sugar. Topped off with tonic water, I’m thinking it’s going to be delicious.

I am also making a non alcoholic version using the leftover pomegranate juice blend I bought to make the Mimi Zinger (known to the rest of the world as the Pomegranate Moscow Mule). Just top off with some club soda and it’s sure to be delicious and festive for the non-drinker or underage person in your life.

Serve with a sprig of bright green mint or rosemary.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Hanukkah!

Click Cranberry Gin Fizz to take you to the recipe link.

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Friday Cocktails! The Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Can we talk? It’s Friday, but it feels like three days ago should have been Friday. You know? There is 11″ of snow in the forecast and Saturday morning’s wind chill is supposed to be -35. MINUS THIRTY FIVE DEGREES. Let that sink in. I’ll wait.

Tonight, though, is family movie night. Kevin McCallister will be brilliantly foiling the Wet Bandits at every turn as they repeatedly try to break into his house. Meanwhile, his family tries (and except for his mom, they are not trying that hard, if we are being honest) to reunite with him back in the suburbs of Chicago.

There will likely be Thai takeout and decorating of gingerbread cookies and my grandma’s Chex Mix.

And then there will be a cocktail. It’s Friday night after all. A simple glass of red isn’t going to cut it.

Fun background note: Recently my friend Mimi and I were playing paddle (It’s like a shorter game of tennis/raquetball played outside in the winter) and I commented that she had a crazy good return shot that I dubbed “The Mimi Zinger”. Then we decided that sounded like the perfect name for a cocktail. I told her I would come up with a cocktail named after her and she requested it have pomegranate juice in it. I think this is a good fit.

If I can get to the store in the blizzard that I will buy the ingredients for this twist on a Moscow Mule (which is one of my all time favorite cocktails. I even have the copper mugs). Then we will settle in and hunker down until tomorrow morning.

Pomegranate Moscow Mule (i.e.: The Mimi Zinger)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. pomegranate juice UPDATE: a bottle of pure pomegranate juice cost $11 at Whole Foods so I bought cranberry pomegranate blend for $4 and it was delicious!
  • 1 tbsp. pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 c. ice
  • ginger beer

METHOD

  1. In a cocktail glass stir together vodka, pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds, tbsp. lime juice, honey, and ice.
  2. Top off with ginger beer (I like Reed’s, which I buy at Whole Foods)

*Adapted from a recipe retrieved from Delish.com

Have a favorite cocktail recipe to share with me? Please leave it in the comments!

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Cooking? What’s that?

It occurred to me recently that I have done very little actual cooking. If you know me at all (like, AT ALL) you know I love cooking. I love reading recipes and chopping things and creating something nourishing and delicious for the people in my life.

But it’s December. And it’s hectic. I have one child who isn’t even close to being over scheduled, I work part time from home and go to school part time online, and yet here we are, running around all over the place. If I’m busy, just imagine what most other families are feeling.

Last night we got home from the third event of the day totally wiped out. We had gotten seven inches of snow the night before and during the day, so my husband went outside to start the cleanup. I had a Blue Apron recipe waiting in the fridge for me to make. It looked delicious — General Tso’s chicken. And yet. I was so tired I just couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, which was to open some containers of soup, throw together a salad from a bag, and pop a frozen multi-grain garlic baguette into the toaster oven. I microwaved some edamame that was leftover from God knows when (there was no visible mold so it was good enough for me) and sliced a single yellow bell pepper for the kid who at 12 still hates salad. And that was dinner. And it was good! Just as I was putting everything on the table a good friend texted that she had just enough leftover fruit crisp and vanilla ice cream for our family of three, and would we want it? She was going to take her dog for a walk and would pop over with it. It took me less than a heartbeat to accept her offer, and it was by far the most delicious ending to a meal we’ve had in a long time. It was so tasty, and better yet, it was such a kind gesture and just what we all needed at the end of our day.

So, I have no recipe for you today, no health snippets. I guess all I’m saying is sometimes the best meals are the ones that you throw together with what you have, and that canned soup might just be the perfect dinner when we are all doing the best we can.

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Under Pressure

I walked out of Super Target today having no idea where I parked my car. The parking lot was jammed when I arrived and I snagged the first spot I could, then promptly forgot where. This has sort of been my M.O. lately. Every December I tell myself I’m going to pare back my expectations, and to some extent I have gotten better. But there are still things to take care of! I have so many to-do lists floating around in my head it’s only natural I forget the details, like where I parked my car.

One thing that I’ve decided not to even care about right now is whether my food is organic.  For the most part I buy much of my meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetables organic. I have a growing girl at home and it’s something that’s important to me. I also care about putting less chemicals into the environment. I like supporting smaller farms. All that stuff. And by the way, I also make zero judgements about how anyone else feeds their families.  We all have different things we care about. We all have different ways we allocate our budgets. December is always a time of spending more on groceries because I am cooking for others, making big batches of cookies and quadrupling soup recipes. It’s expensive! So this weekend while shopping with my daughter I just had this lightbulb moment where I decided to Just. Not. Care. Immediately a huge weight lifted and I felt happier. It’s kind of a small thing, but with big benefits. My budget will thank me and my stress levels will go down. (Note: I realize that being able to choose whether to buy organic or not is a privilege, and there are many people who go through every month wondering if there will be enough food on the table. If you are looking for a good charity to support, please consider making a donation to a local food shelf, or to Feeding America.)

So, what will you give yourself a pass on this month? Will you decide that not everything has to be homemade? Or that you’ll use gift bags instead of wrapping paper? How about that you don’t have to Pinterest the sh&% out of every project? If you need permission to let some things go, you are hereby absolved. Pick one or two (or if you’re an overachiever like me, five or six things) that you used to think were super important but upon reflection just really aren’t. I promise the holidays will still be special, perhaps even more so. Because instead of being cranky and tired and overwhelmed, you might find that you are actually enjoying the company of your family and isn’t that really what this whole thing is about?

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MIDWEEK MASHUP

It’s the most wonderful time of the…

You know how the rest of it goes. Is it truly the best time of the year? For many of us, yes! The beautiful lights, the nostalgic music, the opportunities to spend time with people we love. For many others, not so much. So much stress, so many additional responsibilities, poor eating habits, a few too many extra cocktails, and obligations, obligations, obligations.

Wherever you land on the spectrum of Holiday cheer, one thing is for sure: we all need ways to help manage it all. I like to ramp up my Green Smoothies this time of year. I feel like no matter what else happens on any given day, I’ve at least had lots of veggies and fiber. Sort of like a little insurance policy.

Some years I’m simply too overwhelmed to consider adding intentional exercise to the mix. This year I’m feeling like I really want to get to the gym a couple of times a week in addition to walking my dog and playing platform tennis. I have been using Aaptiv on my iPhone and love it. It’s full of personal trainer-led workouts that can be customized to your level of fitness. Choose from treadmill, outdoor running or walking, yoga, indoor cycling, strength training and even 5k, 10k, half and full marathon programs. All workouts are set to really great music you actually want to listen to.  It’s not cheap. At $75/year it’s a commitment. But I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth since I got the app this summer. (I was not compensated for recommending this app. I just really like it!)

And finally, here is an easy recipe for zesty three bean salad. I made it for a party in October and loved it. It’s the perfect healthy dish to make on a Sunday to eat all week for lunch.

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