If we are being honest, shopping for the men in our lives is one of the hardest things to do. Here are some gift ideas for you this holiday season to give those special men in your lives.
One of our family baking tradition is making candied orange peel for the holidays. This sparkly, festive dessert is much easier than you think and very pretty to spice up a holiday cookie plate. Dip them in chocolate for some extra goodness or set it in a pretty dish for a bar snack at your Christmas parties.
Here’s how you make it:
4-6 navel or cara cara oranges
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Cut the orange peel into 1/4 inch slices
Place into sauce pan in cold water and bring to boil for 20-30 minutes
In a sauce pan combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and heat until it reaches a temperature of 230 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Drain orange peel, reduce heat, and stir into sugar mixture and let simmer for 5 minutes
Drain orange peel and roll in granulate white sugar. Place on a drying rack and let dry out for several hours.
Here are my picks for relaxing, cozy items to give to that person on your list who needs pampering this Christmas. Perfect ideas for every price range!
With the air getting dryer and the weather growing colder its important to combat dry skin before it starts. I’ve decided to share with you the products I use to keep my hair and skin hydrated throughout the year and especially during this winter season.
- Clinque Superbalm is a product to use for severe chap lips and a great way to keep your lips hydrated this winter. Truly scentless its the perfect alternative if you hate smelly lip balms.
- Aerin Rose Lip Conditioner is a great product to keep lips smooth. With so many holiday parties and events I wear a lot more lip colors then I usually do so this keeps my lips ready for darker colors and heavy products than my usual gloss. I like to put it on before I go to bed because of its relaxing rose scent.
- Clinque Moister Surge daily lotion is seriously my favorite product. I have blogged about this product before and after trying several other moisturizers it is still my favorite. It is very light and soaks in very quickly. You can apply it even after you’ve put makeup on which makes it great to use throughout the day.
- Aveda Wedding Masque – seriously so nice. I am a big fan of Aveda products and this is a masque that came out last year and is seriously amazing! It’s a great to wear overnight to provide a fresh hydrated face each day.
- Aveda Hand Cream is another great Aveda product I use regularly to keep my skin soft and supple. The Hand Relief has a great scent.
- Kristen Ess Strand Strengthening Hair Mask is sold exclusively at Target and is quickly becoming one of my favorite hair products. With a delicious scent and ease of application this mask is the perfect if you are too busy to mess with homemade masks or overnight masks. It leaves your hair smooth and rehydrated.
- Black Tea Age Delay Toner while helping to tone and fight from discoloration, this product is really great to help aid against the winter elements. Toners sometimes seem like a waste of money or superfluous but investing in a great toner can help keep your skin looking young and vibrant.
Its already November and the holiday ads have started popping up on social media and TV. If you are like me, the holidays usually come and go and I feel like I never fully enjoy them. Whether its too much going on with scheduling or work I don’t really invest in making the most of the holiday time. I never feel that I’ve had enough Christmas music, cookies, time with family, or decorations. So since last year I’ve been formulating a list of things that will help me make the most of the holidays.
Whether you’re on your own this Christmas or have a family, its important to take seriously the traditions you’ve created and to make the most of them when this time comes around. It’s easy to get lost in the gift shopping and party planning and forget to take time to actually enjoy the holidays. Here are 7 ways to make the most of the Holidays this year.
Write one thing you are thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving and post them somewhere you can read them each day.
Part of what makes the holidays something special is our attitudes. The position we put our hearts in leading up to the holidays is so important to having a pleasant holiday versus a stressful one. Living a life of gratitude throughout the year, not just around the holidays is crucial to our existence. What are you thankful for? What is it that makes you say “I am extremely blessed!”? There are so many reasons to be thankful and part of the holidays is celebrating those things and putting them on display.
Last year I wrote down each day what I was thankful for and kept them in the cupholder of my car. Each morning as I got in the car I would grab them, flip through them and say a prayer for thanksgiving for all the ways I have been blessed. As we head into thanksgiving, I hope you’ll think of all the ways you are blessed. If its someone you know who you are thankful for, send them a note saying so. I have found that life is to short to let the embarrassment of emotion get in the way of telling people how they have blessed you. If its something that you own that has blessed you- give or share it with someone you know so that they too can be blessed by it. Thanksgiving begins in the heart so reflect, mediate and share so that you can cultivate a more thankful and giving heart this holiday season.
Create a Christmas Playlist
A large part of the holidays is music and the perfect holiday party starts with the perfect holiday playlist. Here are a few of my favorite Christmas albums to add to your collection.
Set aside a day to have a baking fest
Growing up, we would spend a whole day baking our favorite recipes and decorating each cookie with colored frostings and designs. This holiday, invite some friends over and have a day of sharing recipes, watching christmas movies, and baking goodies together.
Buy a holiday outfit
Reflect on Advent by doing an Advent reading or calendar
A good way to get excited about an event is to count down to it. Do an advent calendar this holiday season by making your own. Get excited about being creative or purchase one if you like me have very little time. On a more serious note, doing an advent reading each year is a great way to focus on what the holidays truly mean. Here are two websites that I found have great resources for the advent season.
Decorate your bedroom for the Holidays
One of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is to invest in holiday bedding. Each Christmas I pull out my holiday sheets and twinkle lights and decorate my bedroom specially for the Christmas season. It may seem silly, I know, but you will be amazed how turning your bedroom into a Christmas cove away from the rest of the holiday decor around the home adds extra spirit and helps wake you up with joyful thoughts! This is my bedding is from Potterybarn and this year they have more great seasonal bedding
Make finding the perfect Christmas tree into an event
My sisters, my dad, and I used to go and pick our Christmas tree out each year at a local tree farm. Running through each lane of trees, finding each trees best parts and greatest defects was one of our favorite things to do. The past two years I’ve sadly gone to Home Depot to retrieve my tree and I can safely say it is not the same experience. This year I am taking the time to drive to a farm, pick out the perfect tree, and drink lots of lots of cocoa while bundled in my layers of clothing.
My husband and I took a walk along Loch Raven one last time before our big move to Cleveland, Ohio this morning. It’s a perfect overcast fall day here in Baltimore where we spent the day snuggled up on the sofa working on all the things we never have time to do. Moving is never easy and all the planning that goes into moving from state to state isn’t always fun, but getting break from the normal routine can be refreshing and open up time to do things like go for a walk in the afternoon on a week day! Though I’m anxious for what next, I’m excited to see where life takes us and the challenges that lie ahead.
A new series I am starting this month is sharing with you all what I’ve been reading and listening to. To be honest, I’m not an avid reader. I love books but sometimes there are so many other things I would love to be doing and sitting still is not one of my strong suits. In many failed attempts at forcing myself to sit down and read, I’m creating this series as a not-so-subtle last ditch effort to keep me pinned to the books. Hopefully you’ll find some fun things to read and learn along the way.
My first book in this series of blog posts is- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
“That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.” – Paul Kalanithi
I know what your thinking- Why such a heavy book to start off? I guess its been on my mind of late. This book was suggested by a co-worker who thought I would enjoy this book and she was right! When Breath Becomes Air is a story about a neurosurgeon diagnosed with lung cancer who comes face to face with the hardest question of life- What makes life worth living? A thought provoking, inspiring book to read but make sure you have a box of tissues near by.
Along the same lines as When Breath Becomes Air, I have a much shorter portrait of loss in the words by Brenda Miller. The Shape of Emptiness is a flash non fiction piece about loss and emptiness in each our lives through the piece her student shared in class. A beautiful quick read to mull over a glass of wine or cup of tea.
“But for now, when he finishes reading, he gathers our hands and gives them back to us one by one. We take them from him carefully, so we can carry our emptiness into the day. We compare them, showing off the shapes of our grasping. Curled like prayers. Like anger. Like love.” – Brenda Miller
I don’t know about you, but October is one of those times of year where I always get back into music. Throughout college making playlists was pretty much my second major and finding new music is one of my favorite things to do. But I never expected adult life to hit as hard as it has. I never have the time to listen to music especially since my full time job is talking on the phone. But this weekend I had sometime to get back into one of the things I’ve neglected for some time… THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC OUT THERE!!
Never forget the things you love and take the time to make them a priority or you’ll get old and cranky…
Enjoy some of my old favorites and some of my new finds 🙂