4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

 

We’re in the thick of winter, where cold, gray days may seem to loom ahead like an unending line. If you’re not one to relish the cool of winter, cheer yourself up by looking ahead to spring and taking some time to focus on you. Here are four ways to beat the winter blues.

 

 

Plan a Spring Trip

Even if you can’t escape the gray days of winter just yet, you can start planning for it. Set a date in the early spring for a girls’ weekend, romantic getaway, or a family vacation. Choose a warm, tropical locale or a place where you can be active (think ski vacation) and enjoy the outdoors. Just the thought of having a getaway in the near future can boost your mood and outlook. And…it’s never too early to start pulling together all your travel essentials. We can’t resist this Unicorn Travel Cushion for plane rides or long car trips.

 

 

 

Get Out

While you wait for that vacation to arrive, get outside the house. During the winter, we have a tendency to wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed. Break the cycle with a brisk (yes, we know it’s chilly) walk through the neighborhood before work or on the weekend. Want to be a little more adventurous? Bike to get groceries or play tourist in your own town, walking to all the major destinations. If it snows, catch snowflakes on your tongue and sled with the kids. Just be sure to watch out for ice patches!

 

 

 

Practice a Little Self Care

While you’re hibernating, give yourself a little TLC. Start with a long soak in the tub, then give yourself an at-home mani and pedi in a fun color that will have you daydreaming about sunnier days. When your nails are dry, kick up your feet in a pair of cozy socks like these Guardian Angel ones.

 

If a spa day, isn’t your thing, practice a little practical self-care by cleaning out your closets and creating donation or giveaway piles. Tidying up your space can send positive energy your way.

 

 

 

Find Upbeat Entertainment

It may not be the time to dive into War and Peace; instead, choose a light-hearted read. We’re talking the kind of book you would pick up for a girls’ weekend at the beach, something low-key and with an ending that won’t leave you sobbing. It can also be a good time for a self-help title. Researching and learning more about areas we want to improve or grow, can give us something to look forward to in the future—much like that spring trip. The same goes for music; don’t let yourself be lured into a drab, melancholy playlist. Turn up a cheerful soundtrack or tune into a positive podcast.

Cauliflower 2 Ways

 

Move over Brussels sprouts, cauliflower is the new “it” vegetable. And there are plenty of reasons to love it. For starters, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals—some of which are said to fight cancer. It’s also an affordable option in the grocery aisle, whether you choose fresh or frozen. Finally, it can be prepared a number of ways. For example, you may have pleased your palate with cauliflower pizza crust. Today, we’re looking at a couple of traditional preparation methods. Try one of these easy-as-can-be ways to introduce cauliflower to your regular menu.

 

 

 

Roasted Cheesy Cauliflower

This quick-and-easy side dish is a perfect complement to fish or pork entrees.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

Cajun seasoning, to taste (optional)

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the Parmesan cheese and toss to coat. Place the coated mixture on the baking pan and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and return to cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Note: The Cajun seasoning provides a spicy version of this classic dish, and is optional depending on your preferred taste.

 

 

 

Smashed Cauliflower

Similar in texture and taste to mashed potatoes, this cauliflower version is a low-calorie, high-nutrient dish.

 

INGREDIENTS

3 cups chicken broth

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

2-3 green onions, finely chopped (for garnish)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook until tender (approximately 10 minutes). Drain the broth from the pot and place a lid on top. Allow the cauliflower to steam for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Use a potato masher or hand blender to mash the cauliflower until it reaches your desired texture. Top with green onions and serve warm. Note: For additional flavoring options, add in fresh rosemary or minced garlic.

Jumpstart Your Health in 2019: Five-Minute Ideas

 

Welcome to 2019! If health and happiness were at the top of your goal list for the year, we’re behind you all the way. That’s why we’re kicking January off with three quick ideas to get you thinking healthy. Read on to find one or more that work for you.

 

 

Start Your Day with “Me Time”

Spend five minutes each morning on your mental health by clearing the brain clutter. Write out a list of plans or goals for the day. Track your thoughts in a journal or release any worries by writing them on little slips of paper to stow away in a box like this Give It to God Box.

 

 

 

Spend Five Minutes in Motion

It doesn’t matter what you do—walking, yoga, aerobics, or weights—just get your body moving. Start with five minutes and work your way up to a 30-minute regimen. Before you realize it, you’ll be looking forward to this time each day. You know the benefits are immeasurable for both your physique and your mind, so don’t delay.

 

 

 

Plan Your Meals

We all know planning can be key in any area of life—even when it comes to what you’re eating. Don’t leave dinner to chance, thinking you’ll grab something in between work and dropping the kids at play practice. Instead, spend just five minutes on Sunday writing out the meals you and your family will have for the week. Take it one step further by making your grocery list or doing meal prep to eliminate a few steps that, if delayed, could stand in the way of your commitment to healthy eating.

I Resolve to…

 

What’s that saying? “A new year, a new you?” While you may not want to totally reinvent yourself, it’s likely you’ve made a few resolutions now that 2019 is in sight. As you navigate these resolutions, we’re here to help with a few tips for everything on your list.

 

 

RESOLUTION #1: Get organized.

The bustle of the holiday season can leave us all feeling a little scattered and, perhaps, a little cluttered. First things first, tackle this goal by making lists of the areas you need to address and give your self a little mental organization. These Productive Note Pads are a fun way to get started.

 

 

 

RESOLUTION #2: Let go of the past.  

If you resolve to turn a corner in 2019, you’re not alone. Give yourself freedom from bad relationships, work matters, sickness, or any other number of things that have brought you down in the past. And have a little fun along the way. For example, if you’ve gone through a tough divorce, this tongue-in-cheek jar might bring a smile to your face, or consider deferring to the unpleasantness-equals-cookie method advocated by this plaque.

 

 

 

RESOLUTION #3: Get outside more often.

It’s time for some fresh air, friends! Dig in the garden, go for a hike, or take a walk around the neighborhood. Need a little extra cheer in your yard? Even on the dreariest of days these Solar Flower Stakes, which in illuminate at night, are sure to bring a smile to your face when you step outside.

 

 

 

RESOLUTION #4: Care for four-legged friends.

If you’ve made it your mission to care for cats and dogs, then celebrate it. Decorate your home with paw-friendly finds like this I Kissed a Cat Pillow. Or treat yourself to something both you and the dog will enjoy, a Beware of Kisses Leash.

 

 

 

RESOLUTION #5: Make memories and have fun!

Whether you have all of the aforementioned resolutions or none of them on your 2019 list, you should add this one. Life is short, so make the most of each experience. From a trip to the beach to an afternoon spent baking cookies, savor each moment. We love the Making Memories Shadow Box for collecting pictures and mementos.  

 

Last-Minute Gift Ideas

 

Down to the wire on your holiday shopping? No need to hit the panic button just yet. One (or more!) of these three ideas are sure to fit everyone left on your shopping list.

 

 

Delectable Delights

Even the hardest-to-buy-for person on your list has to eat. Treat him or her to a favorite dinner in your home with a menu suited to their taste. Not only will you enjoy the fare, you’ll also have time to linger over conversation and catch up with one another.

Gifting him or her a favorite food is another much-loved approach. We’re talking beef jerky for the dads in your life, a lemon pound cake for the cousin who always complements it at gatherings, and a sweet sampler platter for everyone from your neighbor to your dry cleaner.

 

 

 

An Experience

Aside from material items, it can be hard to think of the perfect gift for a loved one. Whether young or young at heart, give the gift of your time and an experience. Maybe it’s something he or she loves to do, or, perhaps, it’s something they’ve never tried. Either way, it’s sure to be time well spent. For example, take your grandfather fly fishing or your nephew to the circus. Schedule manis and pedis for the all the girls in your family or plan a beach week for you and your parents. Personalize each experience to be special and unique to its recipient. And be sure to make a certificate or write out a card to give the person to redeem for this experience.

A Gift Card

We know, sometimes gift cards get a bad rap. But the truth is they can be one of the most enjoyable gifts because its holder gets to choose the present! That leaves you with little worry that he or she will like it. If you’re still looking for the perfect girl gift, grab your FemailCreations Gift Cards now!

 

 

 

Plan a New Year’s Game Night

 

New Year’s doesn’t have to be glitz and glam. A simple night in with loved ones can be just as much—if not more—fun. We love the idea of a game night for all ages. Use these tips to plan a get-together with your gal pals, neighborhood families, or local couples for a New Year’s Eve celebration that’s sure to be memorable—and maybe a little competitive.

 

 

Pick the Games

After you decide on a guest list, select the games accordingly. If it’s a group of couples, try classic card games like spades or a round of Yahtzee. Board games are great for kids and adults alike. Scatter several around your living room to create zones for different types of play. Charades can also be a fun game for both kids and adults. BONUS: Ask guests to bring a favorite game, so everyone gets a turn at something he or she loves to play.

 

 

 

Prep the Snacks

Don’t forget the food. Nothing works up an appetite quite like a little competition. We suggest appetizer-style foods that allow guests to nibble throughout the evening. Spinach dip, sushi (make sure to serve on a chilled tray), and miniature quiches are popular for girls nights or couples gatherings, while families may prefer pizza dip, pigs in a blanket, and brownies.

If you’re in a nail-biting game, you may find solace in reaching for a handful of snack mix, candy-coated chocolates, or nuts. Scatter bowls of these around the room to satisfy everyone’s cravings.

As for drinks, if you want a midnight toast, we love these champagne flutes fit for a New Year’s fête. If you’re looking to warm up guests of all ages on a cold winter’s night, serve hot cocoa in these mugs, which come with socks as an added bonus for you to use.

 

 

 

Keep It Casual

Keep the night casual. Tell guests to come dressed in comfortable clothes or impose a PJs only rule—which means you’ll be ready for bed after the clock strikes midnight. Keep your favorite playlist or a roundup of the year’s top hits playing in the background for a light, cheerful mood. And, be sure to have “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on the television so you can watch the ball drop and ring in 2019.

Brownie Truffle Bites

 

We all have those times in life when we’re counting calories. The holidays are so clearly not those times. That’s why the team at Femail Creations is bringing you an indulgent dessert recipe. One that will make your mouth water. One that will cause you to crave its sweetness. One that, quite possibly, should be reserved for seasons of cheer only. Read on to get this delectable, lick-your-lips recipe that’s the perfect sweet treat for any holiday party.

 

 

Yields approximately 3 dozen truffles

INGREDIENTS

1 fudge brownie mix*

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Sprinkles, optional

Cocoa powder, optional

* plus, ingredients needed to prepare these

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Bake the brownies according to the package directions. Allow to cool. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Crumble the brownies into a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to roll the crumbled brownies into small truffle-sized balls and place on the lined cookie sheets.

 

In a glass bowl, melt chocolate chips in the microwave. Using a fork, dip each ball into the chocolate, covering it completely and then return it to the cookie sheet. Top with sprinkles or a light dusting of cocoa powder, if desired. Place cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or until chocolate hardens. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Freezes well for future use.

Be the Perfect Holiday Hostess

 

Last week we shared a few tips on being a gracious holiday guest. This week, we’re back with pointers that apply to the other side of the equation—being a hospitable host. Create a memorable holiday event or stay-over with these hints.

 

 

Do Your Prep Work

Simply put, have things ready for your guests when they arrive. You don’t want them to feel like they are in the way while you clean the guest bath or prep a casserole for the oven. Set aside some time to do those things before they arrive, so you can focus on them and your time together.

 

Stock the Home

Whether you’re hosting overnight guests or a brunch with friends, make sure your house is stocked with all the essentials, including plenty of food, beverages, and paper products. Think about the placement and accessibility of these items, too, so your guests feel at home and know where to find everything—be it an extra cocktail napkin (we love this option) for their mimosa or a bath towel for the shower.

 

 

 

Provide Entertainment

Equally as important as having all the necessities is having a bit of fun. If you’re having company for only a few hours, pick a quick game that can wrap up quickly or create a playlist the group will love. For a girls’ night, try a game of truth or dare with this set that features 100 options. If you’re hosting a party for kids, let them take turns at creating a melting snowman.

 

If you’re entertaining overnight guests, plan an outing. For example, if they haven’t visited your area before, show them the sights or take them to the local burger joint and museum. If they grew up in the area, plan a few favorite stops to make them feel at home again.

 

 

 

Don’t Forget the Christmas Spirit

Whether it’s a visit from the man in red himself, a festive pajama and movie night for out-of-town guests, or a few aptly placed decorations that signal the season, now it is the time to let your spirit shine—after all, ‘tis only the season once a year.

 

Be the Perfect Holiday Guest

 

With the holiday season in full swing, there’s no doubt you’ll be attending parties and get-togethers at the homes of loved ones. Whether you’re there for a luncheon or staying over for the weekend, play the role of a gracious guest with these tips.

 

 

Come Bearing Gifts

Things are sure to get off on the right foot when you have the forethought to remember your host and/or hostess before you arrive on their doorstep. Whether you’re there for a long weekend or only a cocktail, be sure to bring a small token of your appreciation. If you need an idea, we love tea towels that are personalized to the hostess’s taste or sense of humor (find a huge selection here), fresh flowers, and candles (find several options here).

 

 

 

Offer to Help

Remember it’s the thought that counts. Whether your host and hostess need help or not, it’s always polite to offer. If they are stocking the bar, offer to get ice. If they are cooking, offer to help with the dishes. These gestures can go a long toward creating a relaxing, stress-free holiday for both you and them.

 

 

 

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome But Also Plan Times of Togetherness

It’s a fine line to know when you should stay and when you should go. If you’re spending the night with guests, have a clear plan of how long you plan to stay before you arrive. This will help both of you to plan for the visit. If you’re at a home for a party or gathering, be mindful of the end time on the invitation or the “feel of the crowd” (did everyone leave 30 minutes ago? did the hostess close the bar and turn off the music?) to know when it’s time to make a gracious exit. On the flip side, remember your friends and family are thrilled to see you and will cherish this time together (especially if you live far away and don’t get to make it home for every holiday), so plan for plenty of times of togetherness as well.

 

 

 

Be Sure to Say “Thanks”

Even if you were staying with your best friend from childhood or a sibling you talk to every day, it’s important to let them know how much you appreciated his or her hospitality. Within a week of returning home, send a thank you note or email to let them know you’re grateful for the place to stay and the time together. If you were attending a party, a note is still a thoughtful gesture to let the hosts know you enjoyed the event.

 

The ULTIMATE Girl Gift Guide

 

Ho, ho, ho. It’s time to get shopping! Christmas is just around, which means it time to fill your cart and get those gifts under the tree. To make it easy, we’ve got a few ideas for every woman on your list. From your mother-in-law to the fashionista next door, check out our 2018 Femail Creations Holiday Gift Guide.

 

 

For Your Pal & Confidant

Pick up a copy of the Merry Christmas My Dear Friend book from author and illustrator Suzy Toronto. The book shares sweet stories about the season and the bond of friendship between women.

 

 

 

For the Girl Who Likes to Be Cozy

Christmas and coziness go hand-in-hand (or should we say foot-in-foot?) thanks to these spirited Christmas Unicorn Socks.

 

 

For the Newlywed

Commemorate their first year as a married couple with a sweet keepsake, an Our First Christmas Art Heart. This piece can hang on their tree or be nestled into their décor.

 

 

For the Grinch

She’s in the holiday spirit—well, sort of. Gift your friend who’s gifted in the kitchen, as well as at the bar, this Drink Up Grinches Apron.

 

 

 

 

For the One Who Gets You in Trouble

Even the friends on the naughty list deserve a little treat, right? Give your best naughty friend, A Little Naughty Wine Glass and Eye Mask Set to help her relax and savor the season.

 

For the Saver

Shoes, wine, and botox—help her save for an emergency with one of these hilarious Necessary Funds Pouches.

 

 

 

For the Leisurely

She’s a lady of leisure—and who can blame her? Treat her to a new pair of Slate Velvet Slippers.

 

 

 

For the Tribe Leader

Give a gift that will keep thoughts of her tribe close to her heart. The Loves Her Tribe Charm Necklace is a sweet sentiment that goes with any outfit.

 

 

 

For the Dog & Wine Lover

She’s got her priorities in line. Now, help her spell them out for others with an “I Just Want to Drink Wine and Pet My Dog” sign.

 

 

 

For Your Work Spouse

She gets you—and your sarcasm. Seal your bond with this witty See You Tomorrow Travel Mug.

 

 

 

For the One with Cold Feet

You know the one, she runs a space heater in August. Give her a pair of Pink Giving Socks to warm up her feet year-round. BONUS: These also make a sweet get-well gift.

 

 

 

For the Netflix Binge-Watcher

Feed her lastest-new-series and cabernet addiction with a glass that proclaims both loves: the Netflix Marathon Wine Glass.

 

For the Organizer

She’s a natural planner and her pantry is alphabetically arranged. But, even the organizer of the crowd needs a Random Crap Zipper Pouch to put those pieces that just don’t have a place.

 

 

For the Sentimental Sweetheart

The colors of the Pink Woven Threads Scarf represent the tapestry of memories woven in a life.

 

 

 

For the Fashionista

Keep a fashion-forward friend looking fabulous with a Floral Burnout Velvet Kimono.

 

 

 

For the Far Away Friend

She may not always be beside you, but you can remind her you are thinking of her with an Always With You Key Ring.

 

 

 

For the Adventurer

She’s always down for an adventure. Now, you can help her keep track of all the places she’d like to go with a Bucket List Bucket with 30 Blank Cards.

For the Year-Round Beach Bum

She loves the beach—even when it’s 32 degrees outside. Warm her up with a pair of Pink Flamingo Furry Slippers that call to mind an 80-degree day.

 

 

For the Friend Who Won’t Let the Devil Get Her

Ain’t nobody got time for the devil. Give her a gift that’ll remind Satan to get back with a Not Today Satan Insulated Tumbler.

 

 

 

For an Awesome Sister

She’s an awesome sister, who has an awesome sister. Remind her of that with an Awesome Sister Mug.

 

For the One Who Always Runs Late

Beauty takes time, right? If she tends to run a little behind, give her a 20 Minutes Late Cosmetic Bag to show her you love her no matter how late she arrives.