As is often said, presentation is everything! When gifting family and friends for the holiday a little extra effort can go a long way to showing that you care. We love getting presents – who doesn’t? But it’s also such a nice feeling to see your fab new gifts wrapped up to the hilt.
Here are a few simple ways to add some gusto to your wrapping!
Make it Natural
One way we love to add that little something special is to wrap our presents in brown craft paper and tie them up with a burlap bow or twine. An element that adds a bit of extra drama is looping in 1 or 2 pinecones to dangle just below the bow, and if you really want to wow them add a sprig of holly. Simple but oh so pretty!
- Pinecones and holly can be affixed with thin wire
Christmas Balls Baby!
This is a good one for grown ups! We tend to prefer solid color paper, we’re not as big into prints – but they work too. Our favorite color for the season is matt gold or silver, plus a shiny red is excellent. Once our gifts are wrapped we tie a few small Christmas balls to the end of a ribbon (that matches our paper) and wrap it around our box into a bow with the little sparkling baubles hanging delicately from the end. You can do just a few or stack them up!
- For this wrapping concept it’s all about the color combination. Try baby blue balls with a striking red wrap and ribbon. Or, bright purple balls with a lime green paper and ribbon. Set your shiny balls against matt paper, or do the reverse. Contrast adds as much drama as your tinkling little darlings.
This wrapping technique is a last minute affair – you don’t want to leave edibles under the tree for kitty to eat. We bake sugar cookies in festive shapes and ice them in pastel hues. Then we wrap our gifts in a cream paper and tie them up with a white bow. Next, we attach the cookies with a dab of marzipan or a spot of clear tape. Just make sure to let your friends and family know the tape is not for eating!
Ah summer. You have always been good to us. We luxuriate in your gentle scents, your warm ways, your playful attitude. Winter, now you are a different story. And while we do love a little snow and ice, and its true, a jaunt to the mountains can be quite nice, it’s still sad to see the days get shorter and darker. It’s no wonder as winter lingers on that we start to long for summer’s gentle kiss.
This winter we recommend holding onto the warmth with one or two new scents that will bring on a little heat, offer up a little bit of cozy comfort. Whether you opt for a heady musk or go for a spicy floral we suggest using fragrance as your best defense against the winter blues. Here are our favorites!
Holiday fashion tends to either glitter or go all black. Either way, it’s meant to be fun! When it comes to dressing up we will always opt for black because the dress, top or skirt we choose doesn’t have to be expensive to look great. Black is so good for our bank account!
But black can be a tad stark, even at holiday time. Our suggestion – girls, go all out on your nails! Don’t have long, luscious nails? Even better! In fact, our top choice for the look this season is short, short, SHORT! Get it? Got it!
Color, that’s the ticket – have some fun!
We went searching for Christmas balls this year and guess what we found, fluorescent shades everywhere. And that got us thinking, how about neon for our nails! We love orange, purple and pink.
- Our favorite brand: Electrics by Formula X
A flash of glitter, whether it is silver or gold, can really spice up a holiday look. We love gunmetal gray, it’s got a racy vibe that we love. And if you want a golden hue opt for bronze, a bit ‘brassy’ but we think it’s sassy!
- Our favorite brand: Ignite the Night by Essie
It’s true, oxblood is just another name for maroon. But nevertheless we are LOVING this dark red look this season. It was all the rage in fashion and it translates perfectly onto nails. This is where short nails rule.
- Our favorite brand: Chinatown Red by Nars
Pretty in Pink
A nice light spa tint is excellent for daytime, but when you want to make an entrance and you’re relying on those 10 gorgeous digits you need to amp up your color and that means turn up the pigment. Go dark pink with a hint of purple for a look that will garner attention, and all the right kind!
- Our favorite brand: Primrose Hill Picnic by Butter London
Eggnog tastes so good, we think it’s the nutmeg that brings it to life. In many ways eggnog means it’s time for Christmas. But goodness gracious eggnog is fattening! Why is it that everything that tastes really, really good is so fattening?? Someone made a mistake when they organized this basic truth.
But we digress…
We scoured the Internet and found our favorite low-fat eggnog recipe on About.com. Try it out and tell us what you think!
This Low Fat Eggnog recipe has half the calories of traditional eggnog, making it a worthy treat for anyone concerned about their diet. There are many eggnog recipes to accommodate special diets, including a Low Carb Eggnog and a Vegan Eggnog.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup rum or brandy
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Beat together egg, egg substitute and sugar.
2. Return mixture to stove and cook over low heat.
3. Stir constantly until thickened slightly and very steamy. Do not let eggnog boil.
4. Warm milk until it steams but does not boil.
5. Very gradually beat milk into eggs.
6. Stir in vanilla and chill thoroughly.
7. Stir in brandy or rum.
Pour into four glasses and sprinkle a touch of nutmeg on top of each serving.
When we think about Thanksgiving we often envision that fabulous turkey, all crispy skin and succulent stuffing, no matter what type you prefer – minced pork or breadcrumbs with sage. Cranberry sauce also comes to mind, as does sweet potatoes with a marshmallow topping. It’s the tradition. But another tradition we love is to ‘remember.’ Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, and remembering what you should be thankful for. Because no matter what, there is always something for which you should be giving thanks!
Here’s a few simple ways to help you remember!
The Thankful Calendar Update
3 days leading up to Thanksgiving jot down 1 thing you are thankful for in life. You can include it as an entry in your smartphone calendar, or write it by hand in your old school diary. Just a quick reminder – “Today I am thankful for: my kids, my home, my parents, my education, my friends.” And be specific – you could even just fill your calendar entry with names!
The Thankful Card
Sometimes the people we are most thankful for don’t know it. Life is busy so we forget to tell them. Or, it feels awkward to remind them and you just hope they know. Well, everyone likes to feel appreciated, so this year write up a few cards to the family and friends you are thankful for and pop them in the mail or bring them to the big dinner. It’s even fun to secretly slip them into their bag so they find a special something when they’ve gone home!
This holiday always comes at the tail end of a year, and by November, let’s face it, we’ve all been through a lot. No matter who you are! This is a good time to thank yourself, because even though you may think you are thankful for you, most of us aren’t comfortable embracing ourselves. But you should be thankful for you, because you are the only you in the world! Why not leave a few thankful thoughts on post it notes to yourself in places like a book you’re reading, on your computer screen, in your medicine chest. Here’s one I like: “I’m thankful for you because you make me giggle.”
We just saw this on Pinterest and it reminded us of the customized cards we used to make when we were a bit younger and wanted to turn an ordinary birthday greeting into a personalized gift.
Here’s what we did and you can too for Christmas!
- Buy an old book at a thrift shop. Something that has yellowing pages and preferably has color pictures, though striking black and white images work too.
- Then think of the receiver. What do they love? What is their personality like? What makes them laugh? What would make them cry?
- Search through the books and find words or phrases that apply to these personal sentiments and clip them out. Don’t worry, you don’t have to cut a straight line, it makes the look all the more custom.
- Find some images that will tickle your friends, and cut them out too.
- Then take a piece of paper – can be ‘old school’ construction paper, or anything you like, I used recycled brown paper bags cut neatly for use – and fold it and apply your custom imagery to the front cover and the inside panel with a glue stick.
- You can write a personalized note inside. I like felt-tipped calligraphy pens because they look nice, even if you don’t have perfect handwriting. Or, even better, a gold or silver paint pen.
Since this method does take a bit of time, it’s probably best to reserve these “cards” for those family and friends that are extremely special.
Black, gray and brown seem to be the colors of winter. Drab? Can be, unless you pair them with something fun and colorful. We love the way a simple scarf can make all the difference for bringing some excitement to the party. Here are a few tips:
For winter we suggest purchasing 3 colorful scarves that can become your trademark. Our favorite 3 colors for this winter are turquoise, pale pink and red. While we recommend choosing wool, or other assorted warm fabrics, our pale pink scarf is a cotton knit, our red scarf is heavy cotton from India (quite dramatic), and our turquoise is a slightly scratchy but very pretty synthetic blend. As long as the scarf has heft, you don’t have to go the way of cashmere to stay warm, you just need to double and triple up. It works!
We recommend shopping for your basic scarves at H&M
We once had a coat with a removable fake fur color. Guess what, the coat died its overused death, but the collar lived on. Now we use it liberally with our various coats and jackets to add some excitement to an otherwise boring outfit. A black sparkly scarf can also be both season appropriate and dashing. And we strongly suggest getting your hands on an oversized broach (nothing expensive) and using it to close a scarf, either in the front, or on the shoulder. Very turn of the last century!
We recommend shopping for a handmade broach on Etsy
Sometimes mixing and matching patterns can seem a bit jarring BUT the practice can also be Parisian chic! How you ask, well those of you who are bold enough to pair plaid with a floral print has, what we call, fashion verve. We love it! So go ahead, look for scarves with a bit of pattern and don’t be afraid to use them as you see fit, even if they don’t seem to match the rest of your outfit. Tis the season to throw caution to the wind and proclaim your personal style!
We recommend shopping for bolder patterned scarves at Ann Taylor
Everyone knows soup is a great way to bring warmth to an afternoon or evening meal. And everyone knows a homemade soup trumps one out of a can. But making soups from scratch can feel daunting. Here are 3 soups we love that are super easy to make. The ingredient that catapults them over the threshold of ordinary are the herbs. Check it out!
Potato Soup with Scallions
Boil a small bag of new potatoes in a quart of water with 1 ½ gelatin cubes of beef bullion, we prefer the stock pot variety. Reduce to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender. Add in 1 teaspoon hotel butter, 3 tablespoons cream, 1 dash garlic powder and 1 ½ finely chopped scallion. Simmer for 15 minutes, stir contents, remove from heat, blend and serve. We love to add a bit of freshly ground black pepper on top and a scattering of scallion bits.
Mushroom Soup with Rosemary
Boil two generous packs of roughly chopped white mushrooms in 3 cups water with 1 ½ chicken gelatin bullion cubes. Reduce to simmer and add 1 teaspoon hotel butter, dash of garlic powder, white pepper and onion powder, 3 tablespoons cream and 2 springs rosemary. Simmer for about 15 minutes on very low heat. Carefully extract sprigs of rosemary, stir contents, remove from heat, blend and serve. We like to add a few fresh sprigs of rosemary on top for presentation.
Tomato Soup with Dill
Crush 3 cans of stewed tomato in a pot with 1 cup of water. Simmer on low heat and add 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill, generous dash of garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, 1 teaspoon hotel butter and 3 tablespoons of cream. Whip with a whisk. When thoroughly heated through/hot remove from heat, blend and serve. We add a sprig of dill to the top for presentation.
A little black dress can go a long way to keeping you in style for holiday travel. Our favorite is something with stretch so it won’t wrinkle and not too precious so it can deflect stains, just in case you encounter a little spillage along the way.
Our Favorite Brand: Ann Taylor
A black turtleneck looks good with everything – and it looks good under everything too! You can dress it up with a silvery long necklace with layered loops. Or, you can tuck it under a blazer for a grown-up feel. Plus, you can pair it with jeans and a black leather jacket. It all works!
Our Favorite Brand: Uniqlo
We can’t live, literally it seems, without a good pair (or two) of black jeans. Here’s why they are SO great, you can dress them up – sequin halter top and sexy pumps, or dress them down – white collared shirt and wingback shoes. They just WORK!
Our Favorite Brand: The Gap
Speaking of shoes, we have had the same pair of black pumps for years. Just tall enough to look hot, but sturdy enough to be wearable. Here’s what we really love – ours are patent leather. Such a great way to avoid scuffs that immediately downgrade your look.
Our Favorite Brand: Steve Madden
Black Leather Gloves
When it comes to maintaining a good look, keeping your hands supple in harsh weather goes a long way to upgrading your appearance. Best way to maintain those hands is cover them with a great pair of leather gloves!
Our Favorite Brand: Club Monaco
Well, here’s where we say bring in the color!! Shake up all your black with a wonderful colored scarf! Whether you opt for dashing red or a deeply pigmented teal, color relieves the blahs of winter weather.
Our Favorite Brand: Zara
Sometimes the best remedies are the ones that seem the most obvious, but as we head into cold and flu season we thought a ‘little’ list of how to care for your little one’s sniffles could be useful!
Sleep is one of nature’s most powerful healing tools. So, if your child has a cold, encourage as much sleep as possible for faster recovery. Also, elevating the mattress at the head can help with sleep when a little one is congested.
A good humidifier will get you through cold season. We prefer the cold air humidifier, but make sure to clean it often as mildew grows quickly in this wet environment.
Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Air Humidifier
This is a no brainer, but always worth repeating. Best fluids, again, are the obvious: water (we like mineral), juices (we prefer all natural, no sugar added), all natural juice pops, and non-caffeinated herbal teas.
Celestial Seasonings Caffeine Free Herbal Tea
Saline nasal spray
Just a few drops can help sooth a sensitive nose, providing much needed relief. You can easily make your own. Just add 3 teaspoons of salt to a pint of warm water. You can purchase a syringe for application at any drugstore. Tip: blow before you apply and don’t blow afterwards for a minute.
These are a great way to open the nostrils and allow air in – helpful for encouraging a good night sleep.
Breathe Right Nasal Strips for Kids
The elixir has natural anti-inflammatory properties and the warmth of the liquid soothes the throat while loosening congestion.
All Natural Chicken Soup Recipe
Yes, it’s true, honey does help sooth a throat and aid in healing. In fact, a study that compared a dose of dextromethorphan against honey found the golden, sticky syrup the winner. Best not to give to kids under 1 years of age as it can cause botulism.
Savvy Tip of the Week
Right from the can, Crisco is a big secret among beautiful women.
Use it to remove makeup and as a highly effective moisturizer. Hospitals even use it to treat psoriasis and eczema.
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