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Go Through Your Jackets

Now is the perfect time to go through your jackets and see if any are too small or too large, and donate them. Especially now when temperatures are dropping, jackets are in need, so if you have any you don’t wear or need anymore, donate them to your local shelter or a store that is doing a jacket drive.

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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.

 

 

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.

Mint Chocolate Cookies

I can’t wait to get started on cookie baking this weekend, and this is one of the first recipes I am going to try out.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 bag of dark chocolate and mint morsels

How to Prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a small bowl.
  • In a larger bowl, beat butter, both sugars, and vanilla until creamy.
  • Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Slowly add in flour mixture.
  • Add in morsels
  • Drop rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set.
  • Put on a wire rack to cool and enjoy!

Take Care of Your Skin This Winter

It’s finally getting cold here in Florida, and my skin is feeling it! I usually deal with chapped lips, but my hands are getting in on it too, and they are cracked and peeling with all this dry cold weather. Luckily, there are several ways to tackle this, and take care of your skin this winter, and it’s in perfect time for Wellness Wednesday!

  • Get a good hand lotion. I don’t mean a regular lotion, I mean one specifically made for dry, cracked skin. The other stuff will help temporarily, but you really need something to moisturize for a while and specifically for this type of skin. Jergens has an option that works, as does Aveeno, and Vaseline. I used the Vaseline one this evening when my hands were absolutely bright red and cracking, and it helped so much!
  • Stay hydrated. Part of dry skin is dehydration, so it’s important to keep up your water intake even in the winter. I know this can be difficult since we aren’t as likely to feel thirsty, but trust me, your skin will thank you.
  • Try sleeping with lotion gloves at night. I got a pack of keratin gloves for my hands in a subscription box and they are specifically made to help keep your hands in great shape all winter long.
  • Use a moisturizing hand sanitizer. We are in the midst of cold and flu season, which means I am washing my hands even more than normal and using hand sanitizer, both of which dry your hands out even more, which is why I was so excited when my friend sent me a lotion that was also a hand sanitizer. Now I can keep my hands germ free, and moisturized all season long.
  • Wear gloves while doing dishes. If you find that your hands are getting even more dried out after doing chores, wear gloves while you do them! Keeping your hands dry may give them more time to heal and not get as dried out.
  • Try a hydrocortisone cream if it gets really bad. If you’ve been ignoring it for a bit, a regular lotion may not work as well, but a hydrocortisone cream should get your hands back to normal.
  • Put an antibacterial cream on any open spots. If your hands have gotten to the point where they are cracked and bleeding, make sure you take care of those spots to avoid an infection. Keep them clean and use an anti-bacterial cream.

While we certainly can’t prevent dry skin, we can fight back against it. These tips help me out during the winter months, and hopefully they’ll provide you some relief as well!

Shop Sales and Save

Cyber Monday and Black Friday may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find amazing sales and savings. Pretty much through the New Year stores will be having various sales, which means you can stock up on some necessities or wants.

One thing I never pay full price for are Christmas decorations of any kind. I always wait until closer to Christmas when everything goes on sale, and then I get those pieces I was eyeballing for my decor. I save a ton that way and can get more pieces for my house by purchasing when they’re at least half off.

Same thing goes for clothing, furniture, and even tech. More of those items will go on sale right before and right after Christmas, so if you’ve been eyeing something, hold out until the sales come out so you can save and get it for an even better deal.

A Scarf Can Change Everything

When it comes to fashion, I love the versatility of it. Sometimes, high fashion is what you go with, at other times, athleisure is the best option. And all of it is fashion. We are wrapping up my favorite season, which means for many, you are getting the last bit of cold and have some warmer weather heading your way. In my case, the majority of the cold weather has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve hung up my scarf yet.

I adore scarves, I think they can add a lot to an outfit, and it makes me think of fall and winter, my two favorite seasons. But more than that, I love the versatility of scarves. A scarf really can change everything when it comes to your outfit. This is one of the best ways to dress up what could otherwise be a bit of a boring outfit, by adding a pop of color or a fun pattern to it. Not only that, but scarves come in a variety of styles. You have your thick, heavy winter ones that are perfect for those freezing days out in the snow, and then you have lighter, thinner ones that are perfect for a nice spring day. Personally, I love them both, but realistically, I get more use out of one of the lighter ones. I can pair it with a short sleeve dress, and I’m not sweating by noon, but my dress now has a bit more to it than just the simple dress it was. Same thing with a sweater and a pair of jeans, it can really dress it up and take your outfit up a level.

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This one shown above is one of my favorites, and was a Christmas gift. It’s more lightweight, but it was perfect for added warmth on this cold day, and I can’t wait to pair it with a dress for a fashionable work outfit.

Not only that, but these scarves can be styled in a variety of ways. I went with a simple wrap around style, but they can be knotted, they can be twisted, and each version looks awesome.

Try Something New

Winter is the perfect time to try a new sport or winter activity that you’ve never done before. If you’ve never gone ice skating, go to your local ice rink. If you can, go try sledding or skiing. End the year on a high note of pushing past your fears.

Take Extra Blankets to a Shelter

In this cold weather, you can do so much for others, even something as simple as taking extra blankets you have around the house to a shelter. There are so many in need who this will help to keep warm.

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