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Cranberry Apple Spiced Sangria

You can find this original recipe here: https://www.bangtutor.me/2019/09/cranberry-apple-cider-sangria-drinks.html and I think this is just perfect for these cooler winter months.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 bottle of red wine, I prefer a Cab, but a red blend would work nicely as well
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (get the 100% juice, not the concentrate version)
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup cranberries (I use fresh since they’re so easy to find right now)
  • sparkling water
  • 1 cup diced apple cubes
  • cinnamon sticks for presentation

To Prepare:

Mix everything except the cranberries, apple cubes, sparkling water, and cinnamon sticks in a large pitcher.

Add cranberries and apple cubes, and ice if you desire. Top with sparkling water to fill the glasses.

Add your cinnamon stick for presentation.

 

 

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2020 Resolutions

Happy New Year y’all! We are now in a brand new decade, and with that comes brand new resolutions. I know so many people don’t believe in making resolutions because they won’t follow through with them, but I personally am not one of those people. I love resolutions, partly because I love lists to check things off of, and this is just a big list for the year, and I’m pretty good at keeping up with them. So here goes, my 2020 resolutions.

  1. Continue to achieve my fitness goals. I have been exceedingly focused and committed to working out on a daily basis and I plan on continuing that as well as my healthy eating lifestyle changes. I’m a big believer in moderation, so I have my healthy foods as well as my occasional junk food. It keeps my body healthy and balanced, and I don’t have to worry about bingeing on junk food.
  2. Save money. Ohh finances, we love them and we hate them. One of my goals is to save more money this year. I did ok last year, but I want to do even better this year. Building up a savings account is so important, especially for unexpected expenses. So this year, starting even earlier than today, I’m focused on cutting my spending and saving more. Spending will be focused only on things I need. No clothes shopping unless I truly truly need, less eating out (which I rarely do anyway), I let my Disney annual pass go, and I’m selling different designer clothing I don’t wear or use anymore.
  3. Help more. Every year I organize a toy donation at my work for the holidays, and I also feed a stray cat at our office, but this year I want to do more. I want to help others more than just that, and one way I can do that is by locating more volunteer opportunities in my area. I’m already planning a beach clean-up, as well as working with my sorority alumnae chapter during their service days, not to mention random acts of kindness if the opportunities present themselves. There are so many ways to get out there and help others, and I can’t wait to do so.
  4. See friends more. I have several long distance friends in other states, and while we try hard to see each other, I plan on making more of an effort to not only stay in touch, but to get together with them at least once a year.
  5. Read more books. This year, I want to read one book every two weeks. I love reading and have several authors I like with new releases coming out this year, so I want to make more time for reading. I probably came close to reading a book a month last year, and that simply isn’t enough for me. And in the spirit of saving money, I’ll be using my local library to help me achieve this goal, that way I can read new things, without having to spend money purchasing all the books, though some will be downloaded to my Kindle so I can enjoy them over and over again.
  6. Treat myself to a monthly spa day. If you read my blog regularly, then you know how important it is to take care of your stressors, and for me one great way to help with that is a monthly massage. I want to continue this tradition I have into the new year, and I also want to add to it. Now, I don’t mean necessarily paying for a facial, mani/pedi, etc., but I certainly do mean coming home after the massage, pouring a glass of wine, putting on a face mask, and painting my nails myself. This is a great way to unwind and relax, and I can even add reading a good book to it to make it a perfect day.
  7. Get my yearly check-ups. That’s right guys, everyone should have this on their list of resolutions. Go see your GP, ladies see your gynecologist, everyone go see a dermatologist for a skin exam, and anything else you need to do based on your age or health status. Take control of your health this year and make sure if there’s anything going on with your body that you’re aware of it.
  8. Take a new class. I haven’t decided what kind of class I’ll be taking, but with so many options out there, I know I’ll find one that’s perfect for me whether it’s a fitness class or maybe photography. I’m going to find something that interests me and explore something new. A wine tasting class could always be fun.. 😉
  9. Let things go. I’m one of those people who always wants the best out of myself and others, and sometimes that just doesn’t happen. This year I’m going to truly focus on letting those things go when expectations aren’t met. It’s not worth the stress I put on myself, especially since I cannot control how others act in a situation. I can only trust that God is in control, and everything will work out how it’s supposed to, even if I don’t have a say in it.
  10. Spend less time on my phone. I am generally pretty good about not looking at my phone when I’m with friends and family or am out at an event, but I’m only human and do find myself playing on my phone when I shouldn’t be. This year I’m going to make an effort to spend less time on my phone and more time present with what’s going on around me, whether that’s watching tv or at a concert. I mean, let’s face it, most people don’t look at your slightly blurry concert pictures anyway lol.

These are just a few of my resolutions for this year, and I look forward to everything 2020 can bring me. What are some of your resolutions? I’d love to hear them, and I hope you’ll enjoy following through on them for the entire year!

Don’t Join a Gym if You Won’t Go

New Years is a time of the year when gym memberships go up. Everyone is posting about “New Year, new me” and they’re determined to get themselves in shape. They go out, they sign up for a gym nearby that has some New Year membership deal, and then they feel they are good to go. Here’s the problem with that. In a few months, many of those who signed up will be avoiding the gym because it’s just not the right fitness option for them. So here’s my advice: don’t join a gym if you won’t go.

It sounds harsher than I mean for it to sound. Gyms are fantastic, they have cardio equipment, weight machines, free weights, and some even have massage chairs and other amenities that can be taken advantage of. However, for many, that’s just not the right option for them to complete their fitness goals. If you dread getting up and going to the gym and constantly have an excuse not to, then quite simply don’t go. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your health goals completely, quite the opposite. It just means your money may be better spent elsewhere.

While most people only think about joining a gym when they are looking at ways to improve their fitness goals, there are actually a bunch of different ways you can meet your health and fitness needs, without ever stepping foot into a gym.

  • Join a sports group. There are many groups you can find on Meetup or even on local bulletin boards where people meet up to play sports. Maybe you’ve always wanted to play tennis or are really interested in getting back on the basketball court after your glory days in high school. Joining a gym won’t help you with that, but joining a group or a league will help you meet new people, and perfect your playing skills.
  • Find a fitness class. There are a few gyms that offer fitness classes with their other equipment, but for the most part fitness classes are separate, so if you’re really looking more for the fitness class rather than the gym equipment, find a fitness class that interests you. My best friend is obsessed with kickboxing, and she goes daily. I personally love to dance, so dance cardio classes are super fun for me to get a workout in without even recognizing that I’m working out. There are so many different classes out there, it’s just a matter of finding one that interests you so you’ll actually want to go.
  • Find a walking group. You don’t need to pay for equipment that you won’t use when you have the great outdoors at your fingertips. The past few months, we’ve had several neighbors and their dogs start joining us on our walks around the neighborhood, so we’re getting some cardio and exercise in while also having some time to socialize with those that live near us.
  • Ride your bicycle. If you have a bike sitting in your garage that you keep meaning to take out, use it as your cardio! You’ll get some fresh air, and if you really enjoying riding your bike, this adventure won’t feel like exercise, unlike going to a gym.

There are other options out there as well, it’s just a matter of finding what interests you. The main point here is that you shouldn’t sign up for a gym because everyone else is, especially if it isn’t something that interests you. Exercise can be fun, if you find the right option for your personality. If you really love the community and workout you get from a gym, then keep going! Everyone is different and there is no one size fits all workout option.

A Reflection on 2019

2019 was a year that went by too fast and also too slow. Nothing too monumental happened, yet I feel it was a year of growth for myself. I learned a lot about myself and I got pushed to certain limits that helped me to look at myself and what I want out of life and out of people in my life.

My Friends

2019 was a year where I lost some friends and gained some new ones. Some old friends disappeared from my life, partly because I stopped reaching out, and rather than mourn that loss, I’ve accepted that they don’t want to be in my life anymore and that’s ok. It’s important to learn that you can’t constantly reach out to people to nurture a friendship. There has to be some effort back from that other person, and if there’s not, it may be best to just let it go.

I also was able to reconnect with some friends who moved back to Florida, as well as make new ones by going outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. Trust me when I say making the time to meet new people is worth it, and that even if you and someone have grown apart, that doesn’t mean you won’t grow back together in the future.

Health and Wellness

This year saw improvements in health and wellness for myself and for others I care about. It didn’t come without work, but I’m extremely proud of the work put in by myself and by others, and I look forward to continuing to see improvements in 2020. I’ve got my health goals laid out, and have several others who have their own health goals they are working towards. Having this group makes it much easier to accomplish said goals rather than trying to go in alone. Find your group, and join a fitness class, gym, or social group that will get you up and active. Take care of your body and mind, nourishing both, and know when to sit back and get some rest.

Relationships

I can’t say that I fell in love in 2019, but maybe that’s something that will happen in 2020. I learned a bit more what I want from a relationship, while also getting ghosted, and while that may not have been fun, it was a good learning experience. It showed me who that person really was and helped remove someone who wouldn’t have been good for me out of my life.

Personal Goals

I continued working on a novel I’m writing and took the next step towards getting it published by sending it to some beta readers. My editing is by no means completed, but I look forward to continuing work on it and hopefully sending it out for querying in the near future. I also look forward to growing this blog. I love writing these posts and interacting with some of my readers, and I hope you enjoy the content as much as I enjoy writing it.

I always look forward to a new year as a fresh start, and this year is no different. I am so excited to see what 2020 has in store for me, and to thank 2019 for the lessons I was given. Happy New Year everyone!

Start Your New Year Fresh

We are about to step into a brand new decade, and I’m sure many of you are excited to start with your resolutions and ensuring that you start your New Year fresh. I am too, which is why I’ve put together some suggestions that I’m following and that you can follow too!

  • Deep clean your house before NYE. You still have plenty of time to deep clean your home before the New Year, and that’s one task I’ve taken on this past weekend. To me, there’s no better way to start your New Year fresh than with a clean home from top to bottom. I may even rearrange some of my bedroom furniture to give my room a new look!
  • Go through your possessions. For many of us, we accumulate things over the years, things that we really don’t need. The process of packing up my possessions has helped me to go through my stuff, and whether you are moving or not, you should definitely take some time to go through your things and see what you can get rid of. Now is a great time to donate or even have a yard sale this next weekend.
  • Get rid of toxic habits. Breaking a habit can be just as difficult as making one, but that’s a great way to start your New Year by focusing on improving yourself and working on becoming a better person.
  • Start a savings plan. I know many of us want to save more money in the New Year so we can travel more or upgrade your car, home, etc., whatever it may be. The best way to do this is to start a savings plan and work towards it starting now.
  • Clean your car. Don’t forget about your vehicle while you’re cleaning to start fresh! With how much time some of us spend in our vehicles, it could definitely use a cleaning inside and out to help freshen up and give you that new car smell, even if it’s several years old.

How do you start fresh each year? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Veggie Filled Shepherd’s Pie

One of my favorite dishes is a good shepherd’s pie, but I generally like to tweak the recipes to fit more my tastes and style. Hope y’all enjoy!

You’ll Need:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (if you want to go full vegetarian, this can be cut out, but I like using a lean white meat in mine)
  • 1 bag baby carrots
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 squash, sliced
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth, low or no sodium.
  • Garlic to taste
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • Mashed potatoes

To Prepare:

  • Brown your turkey in a large pan.
  • Add carrots and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables and broth, and cook on medium heat for another 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  • Add garlic and turmeric, and transfer into a baking dish.
  • Add prepared mashed potatoes to top, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown on the top.
  • Enjoy!

This is super quick and easy to make, absolutely loaded with delicious veggies, and a touch of turmeric that won’t affect the taste for some anti-inflammatory properties.

A Not-So Traditional Christmas

When I was younger, Christmas always held such excitement to me. I loved everything about the season, not just the presents. The first weekend after Thanksgiving was always the time we’d decorate, and we all had assigned roles in decorating the inside and outside of the house. I was usually in charge of handing my dad light clips while he climbed the ladder to the roof of the house while my mom and brother set up other decorations. Soon after that, my mom would start baking a million cookies, my brother and I would start searching for our gifts, and the holidays were officially upon us.

As we age, traditions change, as is inevitable. For me, Christmas got a little smaller. I still go see my dad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day it’s usually just me and my mom or the three of us when my brother joins us. My mom and I still bake cookies together because that’s a tradition we enjoy doing. We give them out to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and of course have a stash when my brother comes home for Christmas, even though he’ll say he doesn’t want to eat any. After we open the stockings and gifts, we’ll likely go to Christmas mass, then have some lunch, and go see a movie (this year it looks like it’ll be Little Women). The movie thing is only a few years old, when I was younger Christmas was all about playing with new toys we received. One year my brother and I got an air hockey table, that was a loud Christmas for my parents I’m sure. For some, these may not really seem like a traditional Christmas, while to others, some of these traditions are how they celebrate as well.

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Here’s the thing I’m learning about Christmas as we grow up. What is a “traditional Christmas” to one is completely different to someone else. Traditions can change, sometimes in ways that cause growing pains, other times in ways that make you wonder why you didn’t change them sooner. For some people, Christmas happens a week before the actual day. For others, it happens a week after the actual day. What makes it a traditional Christmas is that everyone is gathering together. Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather together, reflect on the year, look forward to the upcoming year, and most importantly, create memories together.

Whether you celebrate by going to the beach or building a snowman or having a Christmas movie marathon, your Christmas is traditional to you. If your family is not the kind to gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols, that’s ok, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional Christmas, it just means your traditions look a little different. As long as you are with people you love, whether your family by birth or family by choice, that’s the most important part.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I hope no matter how you’re celebrating this year, that you’re surrounded by love and laughter.

Let Go of the Perfect Christmas

As a society, we’ve pretty much had it drilled into us that we should have the perfect Christmas. The perfect tree, the perfect decorations, cookies, etc., y’all can see where I’m going with this. We all feel so much pressure at the holidays to have the perfect holidays and the perfect family photos, and really, it’s the little moments that aren’t perfect that make it so much better. Trying to be perfect can be draining, so it’s time to let go of the perfect Christmas that you see in magazines and Instagram.

So let go of the perfect Christmas and start enjoying the moments you have together. Don’t be stressing about having the house perfectly cleaned and decorated for your guests, because that’s not the important part. The important part is the time spent and the memories made together. Go look at Christmas lights or go out and try a restaurant’s holiday drinks together to celebrate the season. Enjoy the slightly crispy cookies that came out of the oven after a few minutes too long. Enjoy celebrating early or late, because you were able to get the time together, and really, the day isn’t important. Don’t stress about the party you’re throwing being “just right” because family and friends care about spending time together, not if the appetizers look like Grinch or reindeer.

Learn to Rest

This past week I was down with some sort of illness, and I had to do one of the worst things in my mind: rest. I am very much a go go go type of person, and having any kind of downtime can be very difficult for me, especially when I’m sick. This time of year is horrible too since it’s so busy with baking and cleaning and decorating, so I definitely was not feeling like resting. However, my body had a different idea, as I could barely stay awake the first day thanks to a nasty fever. The next day was all about learning to rest so I could move on from the illness.

For those who prefer to constantly be on the move, learning to rest can be pretty difficult, but it’s something we all need to do. Our bodies will tell us when we need to rest, we’ll feel more fatigued or start lacking energy, and when we hit that point, we need to start listening to our bodies and take the downtime. I wasn’t able to bake cookies or do much around the house, but I was able to watch several cheesy Netflix Christmas movies, keeping the Christmas spirit alive, even if I was struggling to stay awake some moments. Whether you prefer to read a book or relax and watch tv when sick, it’s definitely important to allow your body the time to do so, and maybe even schedule some in before you get sick.

While you’re resting, especially while sick, don’t forget the immunity tea, chicken noodle soup, and lots of water. This is cold and flu season, so we all need our immune systems to be on guard, and if your body is telling you to slow down, listen to it! I am so glad I took a couple of days off work to rest and get over whatever I had rather than trying to push through and extending it for more time. Because sadly, that’s the reality of pushing through when you’re sick: you make the sickness last longer.

Clean as You Go

One of the biggest tips a top chef will give you while working in the kitchen is to clean as you go. A messy kitchen is not a sign of a good chef, even while preparing a delicious meal, so if you find yourself surrounded by dirty dishes and ingredients strewn about, you may want to change your method. Clean as you go and you won’t dread doing the dishes after dinner.

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