Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lazy Days

The holidays are almost over and I've been one busy bee. Cooking, cleaning, gift exchanging, lots of hugs, and tons of eating has gotten this girl pooped. On Monday my real vacation began which will consist of movie watching, couch naps, ordering in, and online shopping. Last night we rented Paranormal Activity...Scary! If you want to be completely creeped out def rent this film. Another classic was on the tube today- Adventures in Babysitting. Love, love that movie. Every time I watch it, it takes me days to get the babysitting song out of my head. Here's a little clip of the infamous Babysitting Blues. Have fun singing along!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have A Holly Jolly Holiday

Seems like a nice concept, right? The holidays bring delicious food, wonderful gifts, yummy cookies, and....family. Since I just spent 2 weeks with my mother, and now we are going back for more, I know a little bit about family and stress. Here are my tips for getting through the holidays with your loved ones.

BREATHE. I mean really breathe. Take a minute. sit down, and calmly breathe in through your nose feeling the breathe move through your chest and down to your stomach. Gently release. Try this for 2 minutes and you'll feel your nerves calm down a bit.

LAUGH. Try not to take everything to heart. Someone is bound to drink a little too much, or say something inappropriate. The holidays come once a year so try to shake it off and know that it's one of the many stories you can laugh about in years to come. 

ASK FOR HELP. If you are the one entertaining and cooking, enlist the help of those who came to partake. Everyone can either bring a little something or they can help you in the kitchen- mash the potatoes, throw together the salad, place the bread on the table, etc.

Hope these help! I look forward to hearing and reading the great stories you will have after this is all over!!

A family that meditates together...stays sane together!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wrap It Up Right

There is nothing more annoying than cheap, thin wrapping paper. I just finished wrapping half of my gifts and already went through several rolls of paper. The cheap, thin paper I bought kept ripping every time I would place a gift box on it. Just about every gift I wrapped has a tear on it! Wrapping paper always seems so expensive, especially holiday paper. And I get it...you end up throwing out the paper anyway (unless you are my aunt who saves the wrapping paper and reuses it the following year).  But there is something to be said about a beautifully wrapped gift!

I am now making a promise to myself to pay the extra $$ next year and buy paper that stands up to a box full of goodies. Here are some I have my eye on.

Crate & Barrel Snowball Fight Wrapping Paper




















Smockpaper's Savoy Gift Wrap














Paper-Source Winter Tweets




















Paper-Source Santas Wrapping Paper




















Amazon Hanukkah Paper

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Operation Santa Claus



Every year my husband and I take part in Operation Santa Claus. Dear Santa letters are dropped off at NYC's main post office building and put in bins for do-gooder New Yorkers to rifle through to help those in need. I like to think of it as if I am their personal Santa for the year. Traditionally we stop by the office and read as many as we can and then choose two, one from me and one from him. Some of letters are written by grandmas or moms in need of a scarf or a doll for their kids and some are from children asking for a new TV and xbox! We, obviously, pick the one's that are in need of winter essentials or a toy that's in our budget.

I know this program is available across the country and it's not to late to take part in it. Click here to see a list of post offices near you. Ho, Ho, Ho.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ornaments for Everyone!

Just in time for your tree trimming party. Check out these fancy ornaments and sparkling trimming helpers.

















Paper Mache Globe Ornament @ Pottery Barn $8


 Rustic Snowflake @ Etsy.com $12


Gold Pirate Ship @ Anthropologie $12.60



 Tinsel Spool @ Anthropologie $11.20



  Beaded Garland @ Pottery Barn $14.95

Monday, December 14, 2009

Catching Butterflies

I just back from a lovely dinner with my mom and my aunt Heidi and uncle Gerald. After dinner we took a drive through their old neighborhood and my aunt reminisced about her summers as a child. She used to walk around with her friends picking flowers and catching butterflies. No cell phones, no curfew...not a care in the world :)

 

Pictures courtesy of weheartit.comhttp://weheartit.com/

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fa La La La La La La La...Laaaaaa

I admit it- I listen to Christmas music year-round. It drives my husband crazy (although I think he's a bit jealous since all he had was a dreidel song)! Christmas in June, Christmas in July...you get the picture. I stick with my holiday favorites from the 70s and 80s. There's nothing like a little heat miser to start your day!

What are your favorite holiday albums?













Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What To Get The Girl Who Has Everything?

Every year I go through this dilemma- what to get a trendy and fashion savvy friend who is very picky and has about everything she needs. I usually start my research early and find several 'one-of-a-kind' pieces that I know she doesn't have and hopefully will like. However this year I don't have the time, the will, or the money to spend on expensive gifts. Home-made gifts are the thing and anything unique and creative for under $10 is in my budget! 

Which brings me to finding the perfect gift for my friend. My girl Melisa over @ the Feather Report, came up with a genius idea and great holiday gift- Feather Report iPhone app. My friend lives and dies by her iPhone and I know she will love, love this genius gift.  Plus all I had to spend was $1.99!!

Dubbed by Elle Magazine as “the next best thing to having Cher Horowitz’s computerized closet system,” Feather Report, the iPhone app, delivers style inspiration to your mobile phone each day, based on the weather forecast.  Fashion + Weather = Feather Report.

Here’s how it works...

  • Using a GPS weather tracker, Feather Report serves up a customized outfit each day, targeted to your specific forecast.
  • From there, you can store your favorite looks, shop directly from your phone, and search for outfits based on your body type, occasion, and weather condition. It’s like having a stylist in your pocket!
Check out the Feather Report iPhone app here and the Feather Report blog here


 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

1+1+1= Easy Holiday App's


 
GREAT FRIENDS  =



                                    
FESTIVE & EASY HOLIDAY APPETIZERS!

The holiday season can get stressful, especially if you are planning a holiday cocktail party. In my house, my husband takes care of the drinks- wine, beer, and liquor. I am in charge of the food and decorations (naturally of course!). I love to cook, although when it comes to a variety of appetizers I get stressed thinking of what to make. I like apps that are of course tasty, but that also do not take a lot of time to make. I love to create a cheese platter with grapes and fruit spread but I also like to serve heartier selections. Here are some of my holiday favorites that are easy, breezy, and your guests will be impressed!

Brie & Raspberry/Cranberry Cups
5 ounce Brie
Box of mini phyllo shells (Athens foods makes one)
Jar of raspberry spread or cranberry spread (jelly would work too)


Place shells on baking sheet and pre-heat oven to 350. Cut rind off of brie, making sure not to cut into the cheese. With a spoon, scoop out 1 tbsp of brie and fill into each phyllo shell. Spread raspberry or cranberry on top of cheese. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.


Walnut & Parmesan Bruschetta
1/2 french baguette
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of crushed walnuts
Pinch of salt,
2 tbsp of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Slice and drizzle olive oil over bread. Toast bread in oven (maybe 5 minutes, but keep checking so it doesn't burn!). Mash up whole walnuts mix with parmesan and a good pinch of salt. Place on bread.


Blue Cheese & Honey Bruschetta
1/2 of french baguette 
4 ounces of blue cheese
3 tablespoons of honey

Slice the baguette and place on a baking sheet and toast in oven, about 5 minutes- check it does not burn! Divide the blue cheese among the toasted bread and drizzle honey over them.



All photos courtesy of me and flickr

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Love is All We Need

I hope some of you got the chance to catch Oprah's show with Nicholas Kristof and his wife. They were discussing their book, Half The Sky. Nicholas Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who exposes human rights violations against women all over the world. I was introduced to his work through his op-ed columns in the NY Times several years ago. He posted several amazing articles and videos on sex slavery throughout Asia. Their book not only takes the reader through the sad but true state of sex slavery in Cambodia but also touches on rape in the Congo, gang rapes in Pakistan, and women dying of childbirth in Africa..among other atrocities. Although I haven't read it yet (it's on my holiday list), their discussion on Oprah was moving and eye-opening. Once again, my personal hero Somaly Mam was highlighted in the book and on the show. Her tireless work to free sex slaves is getting national recognition and bringing this horrific reality to our attention. There are now estimates that sex slavery has reached the tens of millions....can you believe that?? Tens of Millions. 


I have blogged about her before and I have to mention her book The Road of Lost Innocence again. It is not an easy book to read, but if you don't read it, who will? Remember it takes only one person to change a life and sometimes it's not enough to expect someone else to do it. Oprah created the 'For All Women Registry' which you can find on her website.  Here you can help a rape victim, save a slave, create a microloan, or simply spread the word. 


Recently Somaly spoke at the 2009 Women's Conference in California. Here is a link...she's about 16 minutes in.


I will leave you with some thoughts...Millions of women around the world are being tortured, raped, outcasted, vaginally mutilated, and die of starvation every day. Let me repeat- Millions of WOMEN. This has to be noted, because it's not men, it's women. And as women, we can make a change. As women we can change the world! Do it for your daughter, your mom, or grandma. I plead you to stand up and say or do something. 


Let their voices be heard through yours. 


I speak out for my mom and her future grandkids.
My mom and I





  

Monday, November 30, 2009

scents of the season: Perfume & Body Spray Installation

I hope you are enjoying my scents of the season installations! I have a shower and closet full of products and love to test and compare. I think my interest peaked when I worked as the beauty marketplace editor for an organic magazine which helped fuel my interest in all things that are green. Truthfully, I tend to be attracted to natural oils instead of perfume for every day use. However, sometimes I need a pick me up, especially for date night with my husband or for a night out with the girls! 


Ginger, cloves and an exotic blend of Moroccan rose and Arabian jasmine make up Tishka Oriental Fragrance. This provocative scent will take you through the holidays and into the spring.













Bergamot, sandlewood, and bitter orange makes Citron de Vigne the perfect scent for date night.


















Throw this solid perfume in your evening bag and reapply for easy touch-ups.














Reuse this recycled bottle after you finish spritzing Fruits & Passion Cranberry Love cranberry scented perfume.












You won't regret buying Tsi-La roll on mini-perfume in Saqui. Even better, snag the mini collection of their organic roll on oils in 4 unique scents.











Saturday, November 28, 2009

Who...Me?

Greetings from Napa Valley, California!

Recently I was awarded blog awards from two fellow favorite bloggers Beauty and a Budget & Absolutely Not Martha. It took me all night to prepare my speech...so here goes:
"I'd like to thank my manicurist, hair stylist, massage therapist, beautician, life coach, psychologist, my dog, my Starbucks barista, liquor store owner, and last but not least, my husband"...ha! Seriously, the last time I received an award was when I was in grammar school, I won the spelling bee. I remember how proud I was to show my parents the blue ribbon I won and they in turn were so pleased they posted it on the fridge.
 
Not only am I pleased and thankful on this lovely Thanksgiving to receive recognition from two fabulous bloggers but I am also happy to pass this lovely award along. Here are some of my fave bloggers. Please take a minute, check them out, and have a lovely Thanksgiving!!
A Girl in Asia
Apartment #34
Being and Nothingness
Farmhouse Musings
Les Filles Giada et Cairo
Livit, Luvit
Lost in Translation

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just say it already!

I am so pleased and excited to introduce my first guest blogger! She is a lovely human being and I love her to pieces....take it away Sarah!



So, while my cousin Melanie swirls, smells, swishes and swallows copious amounts of wine in Napa Valley I am guest blogging in her place. To my utter surprise, I might add. What do I know about exotic travels and beauty products? I’m the one who offered to give up my spot as my sister’s Bride’s Maid because I knew nothing about clothing, parties, and accessories. (Request denied!) Melanie writes about Kiss My Face and I, Kierkegaard. But, she did ask, and I am grateful. Thankful. And, that of course, has to be my topic on Thanksgiving—thankfulness.
Rather than listing the hundreds of things, people, situations I am thankful for, I’d like to propose something else. Why don’t we just start telling others that we are thankful for them and what they do? It seems so obvious, yet so few of us express our appreciation. Whether we are talking about a banal thank you in a retail store or a heartfelt thank you between friends, so few give thanks for the small kindnesses in our lives. And it makes a difference.

Here’s an example: I’ve spent the last five years telling my children what to do. The results were sometimes positive, but most often grumbling reticence. Then I began saying thank you in advance. “Thank you for bringing your dish to the sink!” And wouldn’t you know, they began to remember to clear the table before I had to remind them. They feed off the positive reaction. Now, we are talking about children, but I hold that adults aren’t more mature-- psychologically speaking anyway. It works with them, too. My adult education GED class is filled with people who have “college dropout” hanging overhead. In a society that values education and titles and degrees, this is a tacit marker of failure. They occupy the lowest job positions and spend hours in underappreciated work environments. Last night I gave them a class assignment. When I told them how much I appreciated the work they were producing for class, you should have seen the brightness in their eyes. Some reddened, some squared their shoulders, and others looked down. They finished the task beautifully—better than if I hadn’t said anything. And all I said was thank you.

And there are so many wonderful ways to embellish our thank yous.  We can say it, send it with flowers or say it in cards. For many, sending out the obligatory thank you cards after a shower or wedding is the most tedious part of the event.  Not for me though-- it is one thing I love about the US.  We have a million places to buy cards.  When I lived in Mexico I couldn't find a thank you card (or a gracias card) to save my life.  And when I wanted to send them out-- forget it! The mail system is rudimentary at best, in shambles at worst.  We take for granted how easy it is to communicate gratitude by snailmail.  And how nice.  Don't you love getting cards in the mail?  Or flowers?

So, say it. Or send it. Spend a moment to tell someone you appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be mushy. And you might be surprised at what results you get.

As for my beauty choices: I like St. Ives Soothing Oatmeal and Shea Butter body moisturizer, Shi Seido face wash and my ion flat iron. That’s it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

scents of the season: Home Scents Installation

There is nothing like coming in from the cold to a warm apartment and a lovely smelling living room. Candles and room sprays are my thing. I have at least 2 candles lit in my living room and kitchen and I have an oil burner in my bedroom. Oh, and I always have a diffuser in the bathroom! Seems like overkill, but I coordinate all of the scents so they harmonize with one another. Each room smells a little different but always smells good. Here are some of my favorites...I have so many I may turn this into a 2 part series!

I usually buy 2-3 bottles at a time of Bath & Body Works Pumpkin Patch room spray. I use it so often during the fall and winter months I run out by March!



















Thymes seasonal scent Frasier Fur potpourri captures the fragrance of a freshly cut tree. Check their site for soaps and candles too!















This company is in my top 5. With over 20 different scents they've got enough to take you through the seasons. Check out their amazing soy candles, home sprays, body butters, and wonderful gift packages.

Madagascar Spice Soy Candle   &   Mediterranean Fig Perfume (I use it as a room spray!)





























I have this Body Shop oil diffuser in my bedroom. I find that it disperses a more intense scent than hot wax holders.




















Add a couple drops of Fruits & Passion festive oils- Winter Berries, Gui-Mistletoe, & Orange Cinnamon.















If you like a massive scent you will love Henri Bendel's candles. When I light one of his candles I do just that- I light only one. The scent fills up my entire apartment.






My red flower products are some of the more luxurious home scents I own. Their candles, hair products, and diffusers smell great, but if I had to pick just one, I would go with their diffusers. Although a bit expensive, the beautiful recycled vase it comes in is well worth it. I gave my brother the Cardamom Amber Resin diffuser several years ago and he still talks about!















I just picked up Mrs Meyer's Iowa Pine Holiday diffuser at my supermarket. Smells great and keeps my bathroom smelly-free.

Monday, November 23, 2009

scents of the season: Organic Lip & Mouth Care Installation

Dry, flaked, and cracked...three words you don't want someone to use after a kiss. The cold weather and stress brings on all of these. Avoid the chapped look this holiday season with these yummy, smooth, and refined lip balms and mouth care products. After a trial run your lips will be irresistible and kissable!


















A long-standing favorite of mine, Burts Bees lip balms always help hydrate my lips. Their Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil not only hydrates but tastes great.



I've tried many lip exfoliators and found Nvey Eco's organic exfoliator with cranberry seeds on the top of my list.


















Eos lip balm line comes in three great flavors and the packaging fits right in with my evening bag.












Cranberry orange lip balm...yum. Kiss My Face lip balm tastes as good as it sounds.


















Did you say cranberry dental floss? Radius natural cranberry floss is made from natural beeswax coated with unsweetened cranberry essence.












If you haven't tried it yet, natural toothpaste gently cleans your tooth without all of the chemicals regular toothpaste contains. Tom's of Maine toothpaste in cinnamon-clove cleans and whitens your teeth with natural ingredients and real flavor oils.
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