Tag Archives: holidays

S.W.A.K.*

Happy Valentine’s Day! What do I love, besides my husband, children, friends, and you, my dear readers? This week’s find: Clinique’s Chubby Stick in my-lips-but-better Fuller Fig, a rosy brown. (If you have less pink you might like the Curviest Caramel shade.)

The product has been around for years but somehow I never tried it. The moisturizing lip balm gives a subtle wash of color and feels light, not gloppy.  Won’t feather like lipstick or run like a gloss.

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Basic, and yet rather elegant in its functionality.

Hope you have a wonderful day and celebrate the one who loves you best: yourself!

Regifting: Taboo or To Do?

“‘Tis the day after Christmas, and all through the land,

Folks are regifting the gifts they can’t stand…”

tabby cat lying under christmas tree with gifts

Photo by Jenna Hamra on Pexels.com

An article in the Wall Street Journal argues that regifting is a perfectly acceptable practice and preferable to throwing away something the giftee doesn’t want or need.

(Reprinted here because the link forces you to subscribe in order to read the whole piece. I hate that.)

From the Wall Street Journal

A recipient wants items A and B (say, a hat and gloves) yet receives items C and D (say, a scarf and mittens). Another recipient wants C and D, yet receives A and B. The solution seems simple: The two recipients can simply pass along the gifts they received to each other.

The psychology, however, is more complex. People in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour, for instance, used such words as guilty, lazy, thoughtless and disrespectful in describing their feelings about regifting. Popular culture casts it as taboo, as well. An entire episode of “Seinfeld” highlights the stigma attached to giving away presents meant for ourselves.

Getting stuck with gifts we do not want is no small problem. Consider that the National Retail Federation calculated that the average holiday-season shopper in the U.S. last year spent more than $1,000 on gifts. In a survey across 14 countries in Europe, meanwhile, 1 in 7 said they were unhappy with what they received for Christmas, yet more than half simply kept the gifts.

Why can’t more gifts be passed along to people who appreciate them?

Our research with Francis J. Flynn, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, suggests the shame associated with regifting is largely unwarranted. Indeed, our research consistently tells us that people overestimate the negative consequences.

Next, we tried to shed light on just how serious the perceived offense is. We asked two groups—again, givers and regifters—to compare regifting a hypothetical wristwatch with throwing it in the trash. For the original givers, regifting the watch was a much less offensive act than trashing it. The regifters, however, wrongly assumed that the givers would find both equally offensive. The results were the same when regifting presents that the recipients didn’t like much.

Finally, given that the feared offense looks more imagined than real, we turned our attention to how people might be encouraged to break this taboo.

For this part of our research, we invited to our lab at Stanford people who had recently received presents, and divided the people into two groups. When we gave the first group an opportunity to regift that present, 9% did so.

When we gave the second group the same opportunity, we added that it was “National Regifting Day,” a real event that happens each year on the Thursday before Christmas. It wasn’t really National Regifting Day, but the group didn’t know that: 30% of them agreed to regift.

Everyone has received bad gifts in their lives, and we generally accept that we will receive more in the future. Yet for some (mathematically impossible) reason, we believe that we give only good gifts.

Our research offers a simple solution to the problem of unwanted gifts. This holiday season, consider regifting, and encourage recipients of your gifts to do the same if what you gave them isn’t quite what they hoped for.

Dr. Adams is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia. Dr. Norton is a professor at Harvard Business School. Email them at reports@wsj.com.

 

It’s Not Just You

According to a recent study, the average American can’t spend more than four hours with family during the holidays without getting stressed.

Lack of space and privacy, noise, too much togetherness, and family drama are some of the reasons. ‘Ya think?

However, knowing this, you might want to take a short walk around the block every few hours to clear your head and give you some alone time.  Happy holidays! xx

white and blue crew neck t shirt

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Style: What to Avoid When Flying

window view of an airplane

Photo by Alex Powell on Pexels.com

‘Tis the season to be traveling. If your plans involve air travel — commercial, that is; you private plane people can wear whatever the hell you want — this timely advice (adapted from a post on WhoWhatWear) should come in handy. Click here for the full piece.

Tight Clothes

You want to avoid cramping and swelling caused by too-tight clothing and inactivity. Problems can range from the serious (DVTs) to uncomfortable bloating. An elastic waistband is your friend, and with a nice top layer no one needs to know you’re channeling Edith Bunker.

Anything Flammable

One more reason to choose natural fabrics! And cover your arms, legs and feet in case the unforeseen happens and you have to go down the emergency slide. A long-sleeved cotton t-shirt is breathable as well as protective.

High Heels, Backless Sandals, Flipflops

They make it difficult to quickly evacuate the aircraft, and could hurt others if they go flying off.  Heels could puncture the evacuation slide and they’ll sure make it a lot harder to run to another gate if necessary.

Meanwhile, that tiny airplane bathroom is even nastier if something on the floor gets on your toes. ‘Nuff said.  Opt for closed shoes such as sneakers, low heels or flats, or boots.

Studs, buckles, zippers, belts can set off metal detectors and slow you down. The same is true for bold jewely. And it’s better not to put your valuables on the conveyor belt; just store them securely in a small case in your purse or carry on until you’ve gone through security.
Not Enough Layers

Airplane cabins can be frigid, so wearing layers makes sense.  You can always remove a sweater or cashmere shawl if you get too warm.

Pack a change of outfit in your carryon if possible, too — fresh socks, a tee and underwear at a minimum. It makes life much more pleasant if you’re stuck on the tarmac in an emergency, or your checked luggage is delayed or lost.

Safe travels,

xoxo Alisa

Gift Ideas When Money Is No Object

While you’ve been agonizing over finding the perfect gifts, this post is sure to inspire a giggle or two.  It kinda gives new meaning to the phrase “insanely rich”.  Enjoy!

abundance bank banking banknotes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

…But Liquor is Quicker

Anyone else remember the saying, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker”? The expression is a quote from American poet Ogden Nash’s 1931 poem, “Reflections on Ice Breaking”.  It also appeared in the 1971 movie, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”.

In honor of Halloween, I’m sharing the following.  My commentary below in red.

HOW TO QUIT CANDY AFTER HALLOWEEN

Weaning yourself off the good stuff once and for all.

By: Noah Lehava

There were tons of reasons Halloween was the best holiday as kids. One, you got to walk around all night in a ridiculous outfit, holding big bags that strangers would just throw full-sized candy bars into. Two, you’d have a cache of Starburst and Reese’s to last you weeks (or months, if you had a parent moderator). Three, your metabolism (and energy) and general lack of nutritional knowledge meant the guilt of stuffing your face with one last mini Snickers before bed didn’t exist. But alas, we’re adults now, which means we know that eating piles of candy isn’t actually all that good for us. That’s not to say we’re expecting you to avoid itty-bitty bags of sugary stuff all Halloween week long (that’s a thing, right?). But the struggle to quit sugar post-indulgence is real. Which is why we’ve come up with a few ways to wean yourself off the good stuff (in the palate sense).

GO FOR THE COMBO

This technique is what we like to call step one of the recovery process. When you really just want to pile M&Ms into your mouth until your stomach hurts, instead, eat or drink something healthy, like a green tea and vegetable-loaded salad for lunch, then finish it off with a bite of candy. You’ll be full from the nutrition-packed meal, but have just enough sugar-coated chocolate on your palate to satisfy a craving.

To go one step further, try drinking a combination of 1 part orange juice to 7 parts water.  There’s just enough sweetness to satisfy cravings, and the water fills you up. This is also great to have in the morning — often what we think is hunger is actually thirst, especially after fasting all night while we’re sleeping. You might not even crave those pancakes!

THE SWAP-OUT

We all know that the really bad stuff in candy is the added sugar (and, OK, there’s other stuff in there, but let’s not get too technical). But good sugar, fructose, by way of fruit, is an easy way to crush cravings, plus you’ll be filling up on the extra stuff in fruit like water, fiber, and, you know, actual nutrients.

Sugar is sugar. It’s generally better to avoid it, and satisfy the urge for sweetness with carrots, red or yellow peppers, etc. Experts suggest that it’s best to eat fruit with your meal rather than in-between.  And choose whole fruit, not juice.

SNACK

Not on candy! Waiting too long between meals and the impending hunger that comes with that will have you reaching into the plastic pumpkin every ten minutes. Eating regularly throughout the day keeps your blood sugar level stable—aka no crazy, irrational cravings.

Disagree! True hunger is actually a good thing — it tells you that your body needs sustenance. If you eat a satisfying meal (eg lunch) that includes lean protein, you should not be physically hungry for around 5 hours.  What we think of as mid-morning or mid-afternoon “hunger” is often anxiety, boredom, or another emotion.  Rather than eating, do something to distract yourself, such as taking a short walk. The brain can’t hold on to cravings for very long.

If it’s late afternoon, and you know you won’t be having dinner for a few hours and are starting to feel real hunger, try eating a handful of nuts (slowly) to help avoid temptation. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t resist an occasional peanut butter cup.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, dear readers!

light landscape sky sunset

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Turkey Day Tips

Happy Thanksgiving, dear American readers! Here are two random holiday tips:

When tempted to shop Black Friday or Cyber Monday, there are two categories one should avoid, as prices will be lower at other times.

  • Jewelry: Prices often increase around holidays and even discounts will be minimal; best times will be early January and then again after Valentine’s Day.
  • Coats: Prices will be lower at the end of the season.  Of course, if there’s something you need AND want, it may be sold out if you wait too long.

When faced with a huge holiday meal, don’t end up more stuffed than the turkey. (This applies to any large meal, especially when family’s involved!)

  • Your brain can only crave 3 or 4 foods at a time.  So before you load up your plate, circle the buffet or table and decide which are the items you most want to eat and only take your favorites.
  • Don’t gobble, gobble! Eat s-l-o-w-l-y and take a 5+ minute break after you’ve eaten. This will give your stomach time to tell your brain whether you’re still hungry.
  • If actually hungry, or you simply want to be polite, go back for round two but only take small tastes of any remaining foods you didn’t sample.
  • Love sweets? Plan ahead to leave room for dessert and don’t fill up on everything else.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday — I’m thankful to be connected to all of you!

Delicious Wishes for the Holidays

To celebrate this season of giving and sharing, I’m passing along an old favorite.  May your holiday and New Year be filled with health, happiness, good cheer and everything you find meaningful. xo, Alisa

Focaccia with olives and rosemary

Bon Appétit |  May 1995

This recipe was inspired by one from olive oil expert Lidia Colavita. You can make a meal around the bread by offering it as an accompaniment to bean soup.

Serves 8.

Ingredients

2 cups warm water (105°F; to 115°F;)
2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 1/2 cups (about) all purpose flour
2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil
24 black or green brine-cured olives (such as Kalamata or Greek),
pitted, halved
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

Preparation

Place 2 cups warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle dry yeast over; stir with fork. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes.Add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture and stir to blend well (dough will be sticky). Knead dough on floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky, about 10 minutes. Form dough into ball. Oil large bowl; add dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough; knead into ball and return to same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 45 minutes or less

Coat 15×10-inch baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Punch down dough. Transfer to prepared sheet. Using fingertips, press out dough to 13×10-inch rectangle. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over dough. Sprinkle olives and chopped rosemary evenly over. Let dough rise uncovered in warm area until puffy, about 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475°F. Press fingertips all over dough, forming indentations. Bake bread until brown and crusty, about 20 minutes. Serve bread warm or at room temperature.

A Little Holiday Humor

(Sent from a friend.)

THERE WERE 3 GOOD ARGUMENTS THAT

Jesus was Black:

  1. He called everyone “brother”.
  2. He liked Gospel.
  3. He didn’t get a fair trial.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:

  1. He went into his Father’s business.
  2. He lived at home until he was 33.
  3. He was sure his mother was a virgin, and his mother was sure He was God.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian:

  1. He talked with his hands.
  2. He had wine with his meals.
  3. He used olive oil.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Californian:

  1. He never cut his hair.
  2. He walked around barefoot all the time.
  3. He started a new religion.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Native American:

  1. He was at peace with nature.
  2. He ate a lot of fish.
  3. He talked about the Great Spirit.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish:

  1. He never got married.
  2. He was always telling stories.
  3. He loved green pastures.

But the most compelling evidence of all proves that Jesus was a WOMAN:

  1. He fed a crowd at a moment’s notice when there was virtually no food.
  2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it.
  3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do.

 

A Family By Any Other Name

If you’re like me, the concept of “family” is complicated. The family we’re born into may be less than ideal, incorporating fraught relationships with parents or siblings. Even in families with a relatively healthy dynamic, there’s often a tendency to act or be treated as if we are eternally eight years old.

As we get older, our definition of family expands and changes. Lines blur as our children become friends, close friends become more like siblings, and siblings may become strangers.

Since Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s typically associated with family, let’s celebrate ALL our families, not just our biological ones:

  • Circumstantial: The family we join through marriage or re-marriage
  • Work: After all, we probably spend at least as much time with our “work family” as we do at home
  • Friends: Who else could we bitch to about everything — including our families?!
  • Support System: Our family of stylists, massage therapists, manicurists etc., with whom we share stories and confidences
  • Our church, synagogue, mosque or other religious affiliation
  • Neighbors

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This is one of my favorite recipes for dessert, whether you’re hosting or bringing something to the feast. Almond flour and Whey Low make it healthier.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone — however (and with whomever) you spend it!

Double Chocolate Almond Flour Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use 4 tablespoons (¼ c) butter + ¼ c canola oil)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (substitute bittersweet if you prefer less sweetness)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I use 1/3 c brown + 1/3 c white for less sweetness)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon espresso powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º and butter an 8”x8” pan.
  2. Place the butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or a large glass bowl set over a pot of gently boiling water. Whisk together until the butter and chocolate are melted and well combined. Set aside and let cool for five minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.
  4. Add the cooled chocolate and butter mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Whisk to combine and then mix into the dry ingredients until everything is well blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.
  6. Cool before slicing.