Valentine’s Day Date Night Ideas


We can’t believe it’s already February and that one of our favorite holidays–Valentine’s Day–is just around the corner!

This super fun, love-filled holiday certainly snuck up on us. And it’s possible that it snuck up on you, too!

Not to worry though.

If you haven’t had the time to think about what you want to do this Valentine’s Day with the ones you love, we’ve got you covered.

Today, we’re going to share some affordable, fun, and easy-to-put-together Valentine’s date night ideas that can be enjoyed with anyone–from your significant other to friends and family.

Check it out…

Enjoy an At-Home Movie Night with Your Favorite Takeout

Going out for dinner and to see a show is always a great Valentine’s Day idea.
However, in an effort to make this classic date night activity a little more intimate and a whole lot more affordable, we suggest ordering your favorite takeout and renting a movie.

After all, what could be better than eating your favorite food in the comfort of your own pajamas while cuddling up in front of a fire and watching your favorite movie?

Not much if you ask us!

Turn Back Time with a Retro Date Night

Looking to turn back the time so you can relive every precious moment you’ve ever spent with the ones you love?

Well, unfortunately, we don’t have the technology to send you back in time. But, we can suggest you turn back the clock by going on a retro date night.

Going to the drive-in movies, roller skating rink, or out to your local speakeasy or soda shop are all great retro date night ideas that we think your partner, kids, or group of friends would love.

Cook a Swanky Homemade Dinner

Night after night of cooking spaghetti, grilled cheese sandwiches, or mac-n-cheese gets boring fast!

This Valentine’s Day, put down the macaroni and pick up some filet mignon, lobster tails, or whatever decadent food you desire.

It’s okay to splurge a little on the ones you love!

If you’re cooking for your partner and have kids, we advise that you put the kids down to sleep before you eat so you can enjoy a romantic dinner together.

If you feel bad leaving the kiddos out, cook them their own special meal earlier in the evening.

Or, if you’re hosting a Valentine’s dinner with friends or family members, we recommend that you ask everyone to bring a side dish or drinks, or chip in for the expensive entrees.

This way everyone can partake in a fun Valentine’s celebration without anyone being burdened by food costs.

Take an Overnight Road Trip

There’s nothing more fun than getting out of town for the night–which is exactly why we think an overnight road trip is a great Valentine’s date idea.

It’s as easy as finding a fun or romantic destination that’s only a few hours or less away from your home, packing up your bags, and hitting the road.

And, with many nice hotels averaging around $100 per night, it’s a surprisingly affordable activity as well!

If you’re traveling with a significant other, we recommend going somewhere you can book a couple’s massage, enjoy a spa day, or spend time doing an activity (like hiking or skiing) that you both love to do together.

If you’re traveling with your kids, spending the night at an indoor water park or visiting a museum is a great choice.

And last but not least, if you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with your best girlfriends, traveling somewhere you can get mani-pedis, grab a nice brunch, and do some shopping is always fun!

At-Home Spa Night

An at-home spa night is a great idea for both ladies and men!

And with so many spa products available at your local store, it’s easy to host an at home spa night without breaking the bank.

We recommend you grab these items at your local grocery store…

  • Candle
  • Nail polish
  • Bubble bath
  • Face mask
  • Massage oil

If you’re spending an evening with your significant other, break out the candle and spoil your partner with a luxurious massage and a warm, cozy bubble bath.

If you’re celebrating with your kids or girlfriends at home, mani-pedis and face masks are always a fun activity.

What are your favorite Valentine’s Day activities? Share them with us in the comments below!

3 Family-Friendly Cocktail Recipes for Your Next Party

Everybody loves a good cocktail at a party.

However, not every cocktail is a good match for all of your party attendees. Especially cocktail recipes that contain alcohol.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with mixing up your favorite spiked drink recipe.

But, as a party host, it’s always a good idea to have some family-friendly cocktails on hand for any children or adult party attendees who don’t/can’t drink liquor-based cocktails.

Ensure that everyone is able to participate in enjoying a delicious cocktail, and mix up some of our favorite family-friendly cocktail recipes below!

Frozen Watermelon Mint Daiquiri Recipe

A daiquiri is a classic, frozen, fruity cocktail that can be enjoyed year-round.

This specific virgin daiquiri is so flavorful and fresh, we have a feeling that people will be asking you for your secret recipe! Here’s how it’s made…

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Directions:

  1. Freeze watermelon.
  2. Once frozen, combine the watermelon cubes in a blender with 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of mint syrup and 1/2 cup of lime juice.
  3. Serve in stemmed glasses with a sprig of mint.

Mint syrup recipe:

  1. Heat 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Once the sugar is dissolved, strain what’s left through a sieve and let cool.

Recipe Source: https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/5-cool-kiddie-cocktails2.htm

Shirley Temple Recipe

A Shirley Temple is one of the most classic cocktail recipes of all time.

This light and refreshing drink, made with lemon lime soda, grenadine syrup, and a cherry, is always a crowd pleaser. Here’s how it’s made…

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces lemon-lime soda
  • 3 ounces ginger ale
  • 1/4 ounce grenadine
  • maraschino cherry for garnish

Directions:

  1. Pour grenadine into a glass with ice cubes.
  2. Top it with equal amounts of lemon-lime soda and ginger ale.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Garnish with a cherry.

Recipe Source: https://www.thespruce.com/shirley-temple-cocktail-recipe-760600

Appletini Recipe

If you prefer your cocktail to be tart and tangy, this alcohol-free appletini recipe might be right up your alley.

Made with fresh apple juice, simple syrup, and a hint of lemon, this recipe is bound to  impress your party guests. Here’s how you make it…

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces apple juice (freshly pressed)
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice
  • Garnish: sugar (for rimming)
  • Garnish: 1 apple slice

Directions:

  1. Rim a chilled cocktail glass with sugar.
  2. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Strain into the prepared glass.
  5. Garnish with an apple slice.

Recipe Source: https://www.thespruce.com/designated-appletini-recipe-non-alcoholic-760355

What’s your favorite family-friendly cocktail recipe? Share it with us in the comments below!

5 Winter Safety Tips to Keep You Safe in the Cold Weather

Did you know that in most places across the United States, the end of January and the month of February are the coldest, most snowy months of the year?

It’s true! Even for us Southerners!

For that reason, we thought it would be a great time to share some winter safety tips as we prepare to head into the worst of winter.

Follow these tips to stay warm and safe this winter…

Tip #1 – Wear Layers When Going Out

During the winter, temperatures can often swing 15-20 degrees during the day.

For instance, it might be 25 degrees when you leave your house in the morning, but by 2:00 in the afternoon it could warm up to 45 degrees.

However, once the sun goes down around 5:00 in the evening, it can very quickly cool off again, dropping below freezing in a blink of an eye!

The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction is located in Charleston, SC…so we’re very familiar with these types of temperature swings.

To ensure we’re dressed for any type of weather, we like to dress in layers. It’s a smart way to make sure you stay warm enough during the day while also having the option to shed layers if it becomes too warm.

The basic rule of thumb is to have enough clothing on hand–like a winter jacket, hats, gloves, and sweaters–for the coldest part of the day. Then use your layers to adjust your wardrobe as necessary depending on the temperature swings.

Tip #2 – Salt Your Driveway/Sidewalk Before It Snows

Every year, thousands of people end up in the hospital after slipping and falling on icy sidewalks.

Don’t let that happen to you!

Prevent accidents by salting your sidewalk or driveway before bad weather arrives.

You can purchase sidewalk salt at just about any hardware store or grocery store.

The best part–sidewalk salt doesn’t go bad, so you can pick up a bag before the snow and ice become a problem and store it in your garage until it’s needed.

Tip #3 – Let Your Faucets Drip Overnight in Freezing Weather

Up north, plumbing is typically built to withstand freezing weather.

However, if you live in more Southern regions of the U.S. where it doesn’t often drop into the negatives, this isn’t the case.

For that reason, it’s important to let your faucets drip overnight so they don’t freeze, causing pipes to burst and flood your home.

News channels and weather stations will often alert people to when it’s important to keep their faucets dripping overnight. Or, if you rent your home, property managers will usually send out a warning via email or a newsletter.

In general, if it’s projected to drop below 15 degrees overnight, you should probably let your faucets drip.

The tiny amount of water drippage is enough the keep the water in your pipes moving so it doesn’t freeze and cause problems.

Tip #4 – Bring Pets Inside When It Drops Below Freezing

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you’re cold, they’re cold…bring your pets inside!”

And it’s true.

No animal should be left outside in cold winter weather, regardless of whether they have a dog house or any other structure to live in.

When it drops below freezing, your pet is at risk of freezing to death, suffering from hypothermia, or getting frostbite.

If you’re really against allowing pets in your home, the least you can do is allow your animal to sleep in your garage with some warm blankets.

Tip #5 – Keep an Extra Blanket/Warm Clothes in Your Car

A car breakdown is never fun.

But a breakdown in freezing weather can quickly turn from an unpleasant experience to a dangerous situation.

This is why we recommend that you always keep an extra blanket or two, along with an extra pair of gloves, a hat, and perhaps even an extra sweater in your car.

If for any reason you were to break down and help wasn’t able to get to you right away, these items would help keep you safe and warm while you wait.

Do you have any important winter safety tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Delicious Recipes for National Pie Day

National Pie Day, celebrated on January 23, is just one week away!

That means TODAY is the perfect day to go out, get some pie-making supplies, and start baking in preparation for this delicious holiday!

Yum!

Need some inspiration on what types of pies to make?

Here are a few of our favorite recipes…

Classic Apple Pie Recipe

It just wouldn’t be National Pie Day without making a traditional, classic, and tasty apple pie.

The following recipe is very easy to make and turns out a great pie every time…

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • Ice water
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 lbs. apples, (Granny smith and Macintosh), peeled, cored and sliced, (about 8 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

To make the crust…

  1. Combine 2 cups flour and salt in medium bowl.
  2. Cut in unsalted butter with pastry blender or two knives until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Add 4 to 5 Tbsp. ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until dough forms.
  4. Knead dough with floured hands and shape into two discs, one slightly larger than the other.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 425°.
  7. Unwrap larger disc of dough and roll on lightly floured surface from center to edges to form 12-in. circle. Press into 9-in. pie plate; set aside.
  8. Unwrap remaining pie dough and roll on lightly floured surface to form 10-in. circle; set aside.

To make the filling…

  1. Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, remaining 1/4 cup flour and cinnamon in large bowl.
  2. Add apples; toss until coated.

To finish pie…

  1. Arrange apple mixture in pie crust.
  2. Top with remaining pie crust and seal edges. Brush with milk and sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar.
  3. Arrange pie on heated baking sheet and bake 10 minutes.
  4. Decrease oven to 375°. Bake 1 hour or until juices are bubbling.
  5. Cool on wire rack.

Recipe Source: http://www.countrycrock.com/recipes/detail/51680/1/classic-apple-pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

Chocolate and peanut butter lovers, rejoice!

This chocolate peanut butter pie recipe is sweet, decadent, and bound to be a new family favorite.

Give it a try…

Ingredients:

  • 25 whole chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • One 8-ounce package whipped topping, such as Cool Whip, thawed

Directions:

To make the crust…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Crush the cookies until they’re fine crumbs.
  3. Pour the melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine.
  4. Press into a pie pan and bake until set, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

To make the filling…

  1. Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  3. Add in the thawed whipped topping and beat until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.

To finish pie…

  1. Pour the filling into the crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula.
  2. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/chocolate-peanut-butter-pie-recipe-2125370

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe

If you’re someone who enjoys a classic pie with a fun twist, this strawberry rhubarb pie might just be right up your alley!

Satisfy your sweet tooth with this recipe…

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 10 tablespoons (about) ice water

Filling

  • 3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
  • 1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

To make the crust…

  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor.
  2. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms.
  3. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps.
  4. Gather dough into ball; cut in half.
  5. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F.

To make the filling…

  1. Combine first 7 filling ingredients in large bowl.
  2. Toss gently to blend.

To finish pie…

  1. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.
  2. Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips.
  3. Spoon filling into crust.
  4. Arrange 7 dough strips on top of filling, spacing evenly.
  5. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction on top of filling.
  6. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.
  7. Brush glaze over crust and transfer pie to baking sheet.
  8. Bake 20 minutes.
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes.
  10. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Recipe Source: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lattice-topped-strawberry-rhubarb-pie-4459

 

What is your favorite type of pie? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Common Breast Reconstruction Questions

Undergoing breast reconstruction surgery is a life-changing event.

It’s a decision that often requires multiple doctor’s consultations and lots of personal reflection after a battle with breast cancer.

And even after all that time spent planning, researching the best doctors, and doing your homework, it’s possible that you might walk out of a reconstructive surgery and be unhappy with the results.

It’s heartbreaking, and we hate to see women suffer through this.

That being said, there’s a lot that can be done to help repair reconstructive surgeries that didn’t go as planned.

And thanks to innovative technology and our amazing surgeons at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, our team can often help women achieve their reconstructive goals in order to feel beautiful and confident once again.

Are you feeling disappointed after a reconstructive surgery?

If so, we encourage you to take a look at some of the most common questions we get from women who are looking for reconstructive help to see how we’ve been able to help them in the past.

Chances are, if you have similar issues, we’ll be able to help you, too!

Check it out…

QUESTION 1: Is It Possible to Do Repair and Nipple Reconstruction Surgery at the Same Time on the Same Breast?

Not long ago, we received the following question from a prospective patient…

Question: I had hybrid DIEP reconstruction at another facility, and I am disappointed with the results. There have been many issues.

For example, my breasts are different shapes and sizes, no node involvement and no microinvasion. The surgeon who did the mastectomy said the path report said the margins were not wide enough and he will need to cut additional skin out during the next surgery.

The next surgery is supposed to be to reconstruct the nipple. Can you do both procedures on the same breast at the same time? Please Help!”

Here’s our response…

Answer: “I’m sorry you are having to go through this.If your margins were positive and you had an immediate DIEP flap, that could be a little complicated to resolve, although I’m sure we could work through it.

Reconstructive surgery can be different for every patient that we encounter. However, many times it is possible to do both at the same time. The best way to determine what method will work best for you is to come in for an evaluation.”

QUESTION 2: I’m Unhappy with My Reconstructive Result from Another Surgeon – Are You Able to Make It Look More Natural?

The question we received was…

Question: “Three years ago, I had a double mastectomy and am now cancer free. My plastic surgeon did a terrible job with the reconstruction. The left side implant is way off to the outer side and looks larger than the right side.

The right side is way too far to the outside. There is zero cleavage.

Is there any way to reposition the implants more to the natural position of the breast? I do not expect perfect but don’t like looking like a botched job. Thank you.”

Our response is as follows…

Answer:  “I’m glad to hear you have been cancer free and have your treatment for breast cancer behind you. At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, it is part of our mission to help women move on with their lives after breast cancer. We focus our efforts on helping women get their bodies back together with permanent, natural results.

I’m sorry you are disappointed with your reconstruction. If you have had radiation, then it may be very hard to have your breasts match with implant reconstruction. If you have not had radiation, then perhaps your implants could be revised or adjusted for an improvement.

Unfortunately, these corrections are all too often temporary. It is possible that using your own fatty tissue would be a more permanent option without implants.

Sometimes it is hard to start over with another approach, but it may be necessary if you desire a more natural and permanent result. So, the answer is yes–it’s likely that we CAN help you achieve a more natural look.

If you would like more information about natural breast reconstruction with your own tissue, let me know.”

QUESTION 3: I Am Unhappy with My Previous Bilateral Mastectomy with Reconstruction Using Implants. Are You Able to Fix It?

Question: “I’m not happy with the results of my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction using implants. Reaching out to see if it can be fixed.”

Answer:  “It is very likely that we could help you with your unsatisfactory reconstruction. This problem can often be fixed either by using your own tissue, or by revising your implant reconstruction.

I will be happy to discuss your situation and provide you with some options.”

Looking for options to improve your breast reconstruction results? Give us a call at 1-866-374-2627 or contact us online to find out more!

5 Resolutions for a Happy and Healthy New Year

On behalf of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we want to wish you a very happy New Year!

We hope 2018 will be your best year yet!

And, with a little planning and a few New Year’s resolutions, we know it’s possible to ensure that this year will be filled with the things that matter most–time spent with loved ones, good health, and joy.

What should you add to your resolutions this year to help make 2018 one of the best years yet?

Check out the 5 resolutions we recommend trying to achieve this year.

Resolution #1 – Drink More Water

Every New Year thousands of people make resolutions to lose weight, tone their bodies, and improve their health.

In theory, these are great resolutions. However, the desire to lose weight and regain your health fast often leads to crash diets and unrealistic workout plans.

No good!

This year, we recommend that you make the resolution to simply drink more water.

Why? Because drinking water…

  • Increases muscle fuel.
  • Helps with calorie control.
  • Improves kidney function.
  • Helps keep skin clear and free from acne.
  • Boosts your brainpower.
  • And so much more!

All those health benefits, and all you have to do is try and drink about 64 ounces a day! Now that’s something anyone can try and do!

Tip: If you don’t like plain water, add lemon, lime, or other flavors to the water you drink to jazz it up! Here are a few recipes you might want to try!

Resolution #2 – Eat More Veggies and Fruits

Much like our first resolution to drink more water, the resolution to eat more fruits and veggies is a simple lifestyle change that anyone can make.

Not to mention, it’s also a super easy resolution to carry out through the entire year!

Here are a few ways to add more fruits and veggies into your diet…

  • Use a vegetable-based pasta while cooking.
  • Blend vegetables and fruits together to make a sweet and delicious smoothie.
  • Grab a piece of fruit as a sweet snack instead of a candy bar.
  • If you’re craving a salty snack, try out veggie chips–made with sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, and other veggies–instead of potato chips.
  • Substitute cauliflower for mashed potatoes or rice.
  • Top your oatmeal off with fresh berries for sweetness instead of sugar.
  • Preslice carrots, peppers, and cucumbers for an easy, grab-n-go snack.
  • Add one vegetarian meal to your meal plan every week.

Regardless of whether you love veggies and fruits or not, there’s a ton of ways you can sneak them into your meal plans so you can consume more of them on a regular basis.

Resolution #3 – Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Spouse/Significant Other

When there’s turmoil in your relationships, you’re bound to experience unnecessary stress, anxiety, or even depression.

The best way to avoid this is to make it a priority to work on your relationship with your spouse or significant other and strengthen the bond this year.

There are a few ways you can do this.

First of all, it’s important to have time together. This is extremely important for couples who have children, which makes it difficult to go out on a date night.

Make it a priority to have at least one night a month that you can spend alone with the one you love.

Second, communication is key.

Make sure you and your partner are taking the time to communicate with each other. Talk about your goals or dreams. Discuss the things that are driving you crazy, whether it’s something happening at work or in your family life. And continue to make sure to keep each other updated on what’s happening in your lives.

Third, consider taking a class or workshop that will give you the tools and strategies you need to strengthen your relationship.

We personally recommend The Love and Respect Video Marriage Conference.

Resolution #4 — Make Time for Self-Care

Self-care is a topic that we talk a lot about, and for good reason.

Without focusing on self-care, it’s easier to fall victim to stress, anxiety, depression, and even poor health.

So, what is self-care and how do you do it? Easy.

Self-care is simply making time for yourself every day or week.

It can be as simple as setting aside an hour of time to unwind in a hot bubble bath or as extravagant as planning a week-long vacation for yourself to rest and recoup.

For more information on self-care and simple things you can do, check out our blog post here.

Resolution # 5 — Schedule Your Yearly Physical

Going for a yearly physical is one of the best ways to help keep you safe and healthy.

At a yearly routine checkup, doctors will check for signs of serious health conditions like high/low blood pressure, unusual lumps or bruises, heart problems, and so much more!

It’s also a great time to bring up any health concerns that you have and chat with your doctor about the things you should be doing to improve your health during the year.

We know your schedule is busy! But, please, before you forget, get this resolution checked off and call your doctor’s office today!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Let us know in the comments below!

The Benefits of Stillness: 5 Ways to Recuperate and Relax

Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!

The holiday excitement is over, the festivities have come to a close, you can finally rest now and get off of your toes.

The children are nestled all snug in their beds,while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

You’ve pulled off a holiday season to remember, one that’s worth a slow clap, now after all of the chaos, it’s time for a nap!

All silly rhymes aside, we’re serious about that nap!

After all, we’ve just come out of a season where many of us tend to run around like chickens with our heads cut off. And if you don’t take the time to recharge, you might start to suffer from exhaustion.

Stillness is so important for the body as it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and allows the body to recoup. So, today, we thought we’d share some suggestions on how to “be still” after this crazy season.

Check them out…

Take a Hot Bath

There’s nothing more relaxing than a hot bath on a cold winter’s night.

This week, set aside an hour or so of uninterrupted time and take a hot bath. Then, grab your favorite book, turn on some music, or simply rest as you enjoy the comfort of a warm tub.

If you have children, we recommend you have your partner take the kids out for the evening to grab dinner or go see a movie. After all, the last thing you want is little Timmy interrupting your time of stillness because he can’t find the toilet paper!

Rest in Your Favorite Chair

Most people have a favorite chair that they like to to relax in. You know, the soft, cozy one that cradles you as you let your tired body sink into it?

The moment your house gets quiet, take advantage of that time by spending some quiet time in your favorite chair. Grab a soft blanket, and perhaps a cup of hot cocoa, coffee, or tea, and just sit.

Don’t turn on the TV or grab a book. Just be. Reflect on all the amazing holiday memories that you’ve made, breathe, relax, and enjoy the stillness.

Meditate

Meditation is proven to lower blood pressure and refocus your mind–two benefits people often need after a crazy holiday season.

Not to mention, a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison also indicates that meditation reduces the grey-matter density in areas of the brain related with anxiety and stress.

Clearly, meditation is the ultimate key to relaxation. So, how exactly do you meditate?

Check out this FREE 30-day  meditation program via YouTube that’s specifically for beginners.

Visit Your Favorite Outdoor Spot and Sit Quietly in Nature

There’s something magically rejuvenating about the stillness of a winter’s day.

If you live in a cold climate, the simple act of sitting on the cool ground while watching snowflakes fall from the sky is peaceful and relaxing.

And, if you live in a warmer climate, you can enjoy the same serenity while watching leaves rustle on the ground or birds flying from tree to tree.

Nature is the perfect environment for being still, letting your mind rest, and reenergizing as you silently watch the beauty that’s all around you. Take a trip to your favorite outdoor spot, soak in the peace and calm, and leave feeling renewed.

Relax While Listening to Your Favorite Peaceful Music

Did you know that music has the ability to disorient rhythmic brain activity in the thalamus and the brain’s outer cortex?

It’s this phenomenon that enables music to make us feel happy and relaxed when we listen to peaceful, calm music.

Schedule some time this week and lie in a dark, quiet room. Then, plug in your headphones and play some classical music or calm music from your favorite genre.

Note: This is not the time for headbanger music, even if it’s your favorite music. Stick to soft, gentle tunes. Otherwise, the sounds of loud, chaotic music will have a reverse effect and the potential to hype you up instead of settling you down.

What is your favorite way to relax and be still? Let us know in the comments below!

 

3 Delicious Hot Cocoa Recipes with a Twist

Winter has arrived, a cool chill is in the air, and it’s the perfect time to cozy up with a steaming cup of hot cocoa.

While we love a classic cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows, we know we have an entire season of sipping this yummy beverage ahead of us. So, we thought it would be fun to share some ideas on how you can add a twist to a classic cocoa recipe.

This year, mix things up and try our recipes that put a twist on one of the world’s most favorite winter drinks.

Enjoy…

Raspberry Hot Chocolate Recipe

Fruit and chocolate are a match made in heaven. So, it’s no surprise that this raspberry hot chocolate recipe is nothing short of amazing.

Give it a try…

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces (roughly 3 1/2 cups) fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Mini marshmallows or whipped cream, for topping

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the raspberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil then boil for 3-5 minutes or until the raspberries are cooked down and the mixture thickens.
  2. Remove from the heat and push through a strainer or sieve, discarding the seeds left behind. You should have roughly 1 cup puree.
  3. In another medium saucepan, heat the milk until hot (but not boiling).
  4. Whisk in the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and raspberry puree. Serve immediately.
  5. Top with marshmallows or whipped cream.

Recipe Source:
https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2014/12/29/raspberry-hot-chocolate/

Vegan Chai Hot Chocolate Recipe

Hot chai tea or a steaming cup of cocoa…how can you possibly choose? The good news is that with this recipe you don’t have to! Get the best of both worlds by mixing up this vegan chai hot chocolate recipe.

Check it out…

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vanilla almond milk, sweetened
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon Chai Spice

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a medium size saucepan.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and stir until spices and cocoa powder have dissolved.
  3. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!

Recipe source:
https://fitfoodiefinds.com/2014/09/vegan-chai-hot-chocolate/#_a5y_p=2519397

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate Recipe

This red velvet hot chocolate recipe combines two classics–a traditional cup of hot chocolate and the delicious taste of red velvet cake. And boy is it delicious! “Have your cake and drink it too” with this tasty drink.

Give it a try…

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel no-taste food coloring

Ingredients for whipping cream:

  • Vanilla sugar
  • Vanilla sugar whipped cream:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (No vanilla sugar? Add regular sugar and a drop of vanilla extract)

Directions:

For whipped cream:

  1. Add heavy cream and vanilla sugar to a cold metal bowl. Either whip by hand with whisk or with hand-held mixer until soft peaks form.

For hot chocolate:

  1. In a small pan, combine milk, chocolate morsels and food coloring. Gently simmer until hot and all the chocolate is melted.
  2. Top with freshly whipped cream.

Recipe Source:
http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/850687/red-velvet-hot-chocolate-recipe

What’s your favorite hot cocoa recipe? Share it with us in the comments below!

5 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

Joy, excitement, anticipation…and stress.  These are four very common emotions that run high during the  holiday season. And in all honesty, we could do without the fourth one–stress.

After all, having a panic attack in the middle of singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is not fun for anyone.

If we desire joy, peace, and happiness, why is it that we let ourselves succumb to the madness of the season?

We believe there are two major reasons.

  1. We focus so much on others and forget to take care of our own needs.
  2. We get caught up in the whirlwind of holiday activities and forget to take a moment to breathe.

If you’re looking to take the stress out of the holiday season this year, we recommend you take to heart the following tips….

Tip #1 — Make Time for  Self-Care

It’s the season of giving. And trust us, there’s nothing more wonderful than giving your time, attention, and resources to others.

That being said, it’s not okay to forget about yourself.

Self-care is necessary if you want to keep stress levels low and be able to remain calm when the cat knocks all the ornaments off the tree or when your in-laws have overstayed their welcome.

Make time every day to do something for you–whether it be making a meal you love, sitting down with a good book, or watching your favorite television show.

We promise, there’s nothing wrong with asking your partner to bake the cookies for your kid’s class party or saying no to an event so you have time to stay home and relax.

Tip #2 — Say No to Things You Don’t Want to Do/Don’t Have Time For

Between organizing parties, attending events, hosting fundraisers, and other activities, there’s a lot on your schedule during the holidays.

It’s easy to overbook yourself…especially if you’re a people pleaser who doesn’t want to disappoint. But, the reality is, you just can’t do it all without getting stressed out.

This year, say no to the things that you don’t want to do or don’t have time for.

Your office holiday party will still be a hit even if the cupcakes you bring are store-bought instead of homemade, and your town’s holiday festival will still go on without your presence.

Slim down your schedule this year, and you’ll find the season much more enjoyable. We promise.

Tip #3 — Get Organized

One of the best ways to manage holiday stress is to get organized. And even at this point in the month, there’s plenty you can do to get ahead before overwhelm and stress get too out of hand.

Here are a few ideas…

  • Sweet lovers–Schedule a grocery trip to get all of your baking supplies at once. Store it in your pantry so it’s ready whenever you get the itch to bake.
  • Party attendees–Make sure you place all your events on a calendar so you can clearly see how your time is scheduled.
  • Gift givers–Make a list of all the gifts you’ll be purchasing this year. Then schedule a shopping day to get all your shopping done.

We recently wrote a post on ways to get organized for the holiday season. Check out some additional ideas and read the blog here.

Tip #4 — Keep Things Simple

There’s no need to overcomplicate things during the holidays. Yet, it’s something too many of us seem to do (especially after reading Southern Living or a lifestyle blog that makes you want to wow friends and family and attempt your own centerpiece made out of fruit).

Fret not, overachiever. Here are a few ways to keep it simple and lower your stress levels:

  • If you love baking, but don’t have time to make everything from scratch, buy premade cookie dough.
  • If you want to give your loved ones gifts this year, but are stressing out over what to buy them, give them money or gift cards.
  • If you’re hosting a holiday party, but are worried about making dinner and prepping for all those people, have the event catered.

You get the idea…keep it simple!

Tip #5 — Practice Meditation or Deep Breathing Exercises

Meditation and deep breathing exercises are scientifically proven to clear your mind, slow your heart rate, and reduce your stress levels.

If you’re feeling stressed, try to practice some form of meditation each day.

Not sure where to start?

We recommend taking a yoga class or a meditation/wellness class in your community.

Or, if you’re looking for a free option, check out YouTube. Search for “yoga instruction” or “deep breathing exercises,” and pages of free videos will pop up for you to use.

What do you do to stay stress-free during this busy season? Let us know in the comments below!

Must-See Holiday Movie List for the Family


There’s nothing better than throwing on some cozy p.j.’s, popping some popcorn, and settling down for a movie night with the family. Especially now that our favorite classic holiday movies are playing regularly on TV and Netflix.

This year, we thought it would be fun to put together a list of our favorite family-friendly holiday movies.

Are your favorites on our list? Find out now…

Movie #1 — Elf

Elf is a comedic story about a man named Buddy who was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby and raised among Santa’s elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t fit in, Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father.

Not only will this flick have you in stitches from laughing, but it will also have you spreading Christmas cheer by singing loudly for all to hear.

This movie is often played on ABC family multiple times during the month of December.

 

 

 

Movie #2 — A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas has become an iconic holiday classic since its 1965 release. This year, discover the real meaning of Christmas and join Charlie Brown as he organizes the town Christmas pageant.

Check your local listings to find out when it airs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie #3 — Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Claymation Version

Kick it old-school with a screening of the claymation version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Will Rudolph and Hermey the elf make it past Bumble, the scary snow monster? You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out!

You can find copies of this classic film in movie rental stores, or stream it live on your computer via YouTube and other websites that provide affordable access to movies online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie #4 — It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life is a magical story about a man named George Bailey who wishes he had never been born. Upon hearing George’s wish, a Christmas angel  is sent to earth to make George’s wish come true. Over time, George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he were never there.

It’s tradition for NBC to play this movie every Christmas Eve. Be sure to mark it on your calendar so you don’t miss it this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie #5 — Home Alone

Home Alone, released in 1990, tells the story of 8-year-old Kevin McCallister who gets accidentally left home alone after spending the night in the attic as punishment for acting out. While his family is enjoying a holiday trip in Paris, he’s left home alone to protect his home from sneaky (and very funny) burglars.

This movie is typically available via Netflix during the holiday season. If you can’t find it online, check your local movie rental store or TV guide to see when it’s playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6 — A Christmas Story

“You’ll shoot your eye out,” “oh fudge!”, and “He looks like a pink nightmare” are all famous quotes that came from the movie A Christmas Story.  If you haven’t seen this film yet, you must join Ralphie Parker on his dream of getting a Red Ryder air rifle from Santa this year.

Every year on December 24 and 25, TNT airs the movie for 48 hours straight.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie #7 — The Polar Express

The Polar Express, a movie based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, takes you on an amazing adventure with a boy who takes a train ride to the North Pole.  On this journey, the little boy discovers that the wonder of life and the magic of the holiday season never fade for those who believe.

This movie often airs on ABC family. Check your TV guide listings for when it will be played.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie #8 — The Grinch

The Grinch is a classic tale about a grumpy Grinch that decides to ruin Christmas for the cheery citizens of Whoville. In the midst of trying to steal Christmas from all the Whos in Whoville, the Grinch runs into an endearing character named Cindy Lou Who. Will she be able to stop him from ruining Christmas? Find out while watching the movie.

The Grinch often airs in December on ABC Family. Or, if you’re interested, the old cartoon version of the Grinch can usually be found on CBS. Check your local listings for airtimes.
 

 

 

 

What is your favorite holiday movie? Share it with us in the comments below!