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Pickled Vegetable Wreath with Paisley Farms

Pickled Vegetable Wreath with Paisley Farms

Every holiday I can ever remember had pickled vegetables at our family gatherings. I’m not sure if the pickled food lends back to my German heritage, or my Southern roots from the Carolinas as both places seem to love their pickled vegetables!  Pickled vegetables are great […]

Lemon Leek Soup with Rice

Lemon Leek Soup with Rice

I was absolutely craving something lemony the other day, so this Greek-inspired ‘Lemon Leek Soup’ with rice hit the spot! I love lemon, so I added the juice from 3 large lemons. However, the more lemon added, the saltier this soup will taste (I think our […]

Make Time For Your Besties This Holiday Season

Make Time For Your Besties This Holiday Season

This post is sponsored by Wente Vineyards but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Time seems to speed up after Thanksgiving as we all rush around to shop, travel, attend school plays and cram in company parties. The shorter darker days just compound to the feeling of not having enough time to get everything done. Sadly, my Mom friends and I will often say that once the holidays are over, we’ll get together for a fun gathering. Stop the presses! What the heck are we thinking? The Holidays are absolutely meant to be spent with friends, and if anything, it’s a treat to be able to slow down and relax!

Make time with your circle of besties this holiday season with these easy no-stress suggestions.

KEEP IT CASUAL

Formal party invites over the Holiday season can invoke fear in even the most veteran party goers. Formal events often mean shopping for clothes at a crowded mall, hair and nail appointments, and the additional money being spent on simply getting ready for the party just adds to the already costly Holiday season.

Instead, have a fun, small gathering where guests are encouraged to dress comfy and bring a dish to share. Potluck style parties are fun because you never know what you’re going to get and it reduces the stress on the hostess (you) as well! Don’t even bother with a sign-up list. If you get three salads and two hummus dips, so be it! Personally, I’m a puff pastry type of gal. Puff pastry appetizers practically make themselves. Stuff a little cheese and a kalamata olive in some dough, bake for 15-18 minutes in a mini-muffin pan, and you have yourself a tasty hot bite.

 

CREATE A FOCUS FOR YOUR GATHERING

White Elephant Gift Exchanges, Ugly Sweater Parties, Cookie Exchanges and Craft Parties are all easy to have and low key. However, if you are having a few of your BFFs over, the Craft Party option is my favorite because basically everyone just has to show up. No need to shop for an ugly sweater, gift, or bake cookies. I prefer to make ornaments (idea & tutorial below). Its amazingly fun to sit down at a table, crafting and chatting freely with a glass of wine in hand. Some of your friends will be really crafty and make lots of ornaments, others will work a bit slower, but they are typically the ones telling REALLY great (and funny) stories, so slow crafters are always welcome!

Regardless if I’m hosting a party, or attending one, I am always sure to have plenty of wine on hand as wine goes so well with gatherings! The Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay is delicious and an excellent choice for get-togethers. This crowd pleaser has classic Chardonnay flavors of apple, pear and stone fruits. Wente Vineyards, like myself, believes in taking a step back to appreciate all that we have and to share our seasonal joy with friends. Click here to see Wente Vineyard’s tips on how to slow down and make an effort to stay present with your family and friends during the busy holiday season. Party Tip: Stemless wine glasses are great for crafting parties because they are easy to grab, and less likely to tip over.

 

GET CRAFTY! FELT BERRY ORNAMENT 

Ornaments make a great craft for parties because they are actually USEFUL.  Your guests may choose to hang their completed ornaments on their own Christmas trees, or they may use them for gifts or bag toppers for their own gift giving! If you are providing a lot of supplies, it’s totally acceptable to ask for a nominal ‘crafting supply’ fee to help cover costs.

You Will Need:

  • Scissors
  • Sheets of green felt (two colors is best for contrast)
  • Some felt balls. If you can’t find them, small pom poms will work.
  • Floral craft wire
  • Hot Glue Gun & Glue
  • Ribbons

 

How To Make:

  1. Cut out leaf shapes about 2 inches long. Each ornament should have at least 6 leaves. 2
  2. Cut floral wire in 5 to 6-inch strips. They don’t all have to match in length because you want your leaves to be staggered.
  3. Feed one end of the wire through the end of a leaf and fold over like a hook.
  4. On the hook side, pinch the felt leaf and add a little hot glue to seal the end. This will hide the wire end and give your leaf more of a 3-D appearance.
  5. Hot glue on a few felt balls to three of the leaves.
  6. Stagger your wires and leaves. When you are happy with the arrangement, grab the longest wire sticking out and use it to wrap around the rest of the wires.
  7. You may bend the entire wire grouping into a hook or loop
  8. Using ribbon, tie a bow around a bottle of wine (like the Wente Wine Bottle example below) or make a smaller bow on the actual ornament and hang on a tree or gift bag.

No matter what activity you choose to do with your besties, here’s to a fun and relaxing Holiday Season! Make sure to stock up on some Wente Vineyards wine – Find it in a store near you! 

 

 

Holiday Chocolate Bark

Holiday Chocolate Bark

This festive chocolate combines winter fruit favs in a colorful citrus packed candy. Also, by choosing local fruits, you are cutting back on foods that require long travel and storage. This simple dessert features in-season pomegranate and oranges. Yum! Serves: 8 people

Low-Sugar Holiday Cranberry Brie Bites

Low-Sugar Holiday Cranberry Brie Bites

I love a nice dessert to finish off a meal, but I don’t care for overly sweet treats. When given the choice, I tend to gravitate towards the cheese and fruit platter for dessert. I’ve created this easy sweet and creamy low-sugar Holiday Cranberry Brie Bite recipe […]

Natural Sleep Aids That Work

Natural Sleep Aids That Work

I attend many natural product expos and events and receive herbal or homeopathic remedies to try. It’s nice because I can personally test out different products and make recommendations based on my own real experience.  Interestingly enough, when my friends and readers ask about different natural supplements to take, sleep aids and probiotics are the top two supplements of interest. Pain and anti-aging products are a close third. However, it’s no wonder we all want and need great sleep. Exhaustion can make a day seem endlessly miserable, full of mistakes, or worse accident prone.  (more…)

Crispy Vegetarian Taco Eggrolls – Great for Bowl Games!

Crispy Vegetarian Taco Eggrolls – Great for Bowl Games!

It’s football bowl season, so that means finger food for entertaining! Here’s a healthy vegetarian taco eggroll using JSL Vegan wrappers that is easy to whip up prior to the big game.

White Elephant Ideas for 2018

White Elephant Ideas for 2018

I’d like to think I’m a White Elephant expert as my items are ALWAYS highly sought after – heck, even fist-fight worthy! I jest, but really the point about having a White Elephant party is to have a mix of REALLY COOL USEFUL items blended […]

5 great versatile CBD uses for Moms

5 great versatile CBD uses for Moms

It’s hard to get away from CBD at the moment – it’s a common topic in the media, and you most likely have a friend that thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. And to be fair, they have a point! Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinoid science in general is unlocking secrets about our health which have always been mysterious if not unknown.

Cannabis and hemp have been staple medicines for various cultures around the world, dating back millennia, but now that researchers have been able to isolate the most important compounds in the plant, we are building a detailed picture of just how it affects us.

Crucially, we can now buy products that offer the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, sans the psychoactive and intoxicating properties of the herb, which are mostly down to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD fulfils a vital role in regulating the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), and full-spectrum CBD products also contain miniscule amounts of other non-psychoactive cannabinoids which appear to provide extra therapeutic value, as a result of synergistic reactions between the compounds.

Here are five intriguing uses for CBD.

CBD may help with fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia patients are often left feeling helpless with their condition, which causes an array of symptoms, which are seemingly unconnected – such as pain and reduced cognitive function. But a group of cannabinoid researchers think they have found the underlying cause for fibromyalgia, suggesting that it is due to dysregulation in the ECS. They argue, with steadily accumulating evidence, that some people cannot produce enough of the body’s natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, to keep their ECS regulated, hence why they suffer from this strange set of symptoms.

CBD addresses imbalances in the ECS, by indirectly boosting concentrations of anandamide, an endocannabinoid which binds to both cannabinoid receptors.

CBD’s soothing psychological effects are great for anxiety

Keeping a clear head is key to managing anxiety, but some people find this more challenging than others – some research indicates that this is down to brain chemistry. What is apparent is that CBD can be more effective at treating anxiety than a placebo, and that the cannabinoid promotes an essential inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, which is associated with anti-anxiety effects. In 2018, a study also found that CBD produces an anxiolytic effect as an agonist of the 5-HT1A receptor.

Using CBD Juul pods to vaporize CBD is an efficient way of relieving symptoms of anxiety and managing panic attacks.

Enjoy controlled pain relief with CBD

Prescription painkillers may be effective at relieving pain, but can often be very addictive, this is particularly the case with opioids which have a high overdose risk. However, CBD can deliver pain relief without getting the user addicted, and also without causing psychoactive effects or any kind of euphoria.

Scientists are still trying to work out what gives CBD its analgesic properties, but this may be down to its promotion of anandamide, a known agonist of the CB1 receptor which regulates pain sensitivity. Another g-protein coupled receptor, the vanilloid receptor, which is not a part of the ECS, can also be activated by anandamide – this may be responsible for additional pain relief.

Have a great night’s sleep with CBD

As with painkillers, sleeping tablets can often do the trick, but give the users an unwanted set of problems, such as an addiction, as well as side effects including inconsistent appetite, diarrhea, dizziness and drowsiness during the day.

In contrast, the sedative properties of CBD – which are felt best with a strong dose – are neither physically nor psychologically addictive and can increase the quantity of deep sleep that the user gets. Deep sleep is essential for rejuvenation, growth and improved cognitive function.

Regulate the immune system with CBD

The immune system is notorious for being difficult to control, and aggravation can easily lead to an influx of pro-inflammatory messages which end up causing harm rather than protecting from it. Researchers have unearthed a key link to immune system response via the ECS, which comes from activating the CB2 receptor. Both anandamide and 2-AG have immunomodulatory properties, which come from binding with this receptor. CBD may increase the available amount of both, helping the immune system to find that crucial balance.