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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Relaxation, Brain Hijacking and Traveling Without Leaving Home

There is so much of the stressful, hectic and hurried in our lives this time of year.  As Christmas approaches, I am repeatedly asked the question, "Where are you going for the holidays?" or it's less exotic cousin, "Do you have any fun plans this year?"  And while I personally revel in our legion traditions without the least desire to do anything else, I do occasionally find that a deflated sigh escapes me in the 2 beats before I answer.  Why is this? I would hate to go somewhere exotic this time of year - never do I feel more joyfully tied to or rooted in my home and family.  I think that perhaps that it is more the siren song of enforced relaxation that gives voice to my rare, yet unbidden and unruly exhalations.
"Slow down for heaven's sake!"  "Drink it in!"  "It will be over before you know it" tend to be the subconscious drumbeat to my psyche's holiday soundtrack, as if repeating it over will make it so.  Much to my dismay, I find instead that slowing down becomes another item on the to-do list and "over before you know it" bumps the speed of life up a notch.  (I was really tempted to use a record-player reference there, but thought it was too 1970s.) 😏
My solution?  Hijacking my brain.  Sorry for the violent sound to that idea, but I truly have to interrupt my routine, mental track in order to find the delicious, elusive and rare delicacy of the season - relaxation.  I stumbled across this yesterday as I put a Christmas CD in that a friend had given me.  The musician has so expertly arranged and executed the music so as to cause me to lose all track of time.  I was carried away on all the wonderful emotions of the season to such a degree, that I passed over 30 minutes without engaging in a parallel activity.  Multi-tasking abandonment felt amazing.  The relaxation of an exotic beach was achieved in 30 minutes instead of three days and with no monetary investment compared to mucha-moola!

Does this mean we all need to stop what we're doing and find the nearest audio device awaiting our melodic discovery?  Not necessarily.  Relaxation may be dressed as your favorite book, an untried recipe, or a soothing soak in a fragrant bath.
The point is this: shake it up.  We work hard at varying our exercise, work and even nutrition routines, why not our relaxation routine?  You muscles, blood pressure, cortisol levels and overall health will thank you. Not to mention saving the sanity of those beloved - albeit beleaguering - people we share this adventure of life with, our family!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Neighbor Gifts That Don’t Feed the Sweet Tooth

Besides the usual inundation of sweet treats this time of year, there are loads of other reasons to stop feeding your neighbor’s sweet tooth.  With almost 10% of the population suffering from diabetes, and 25% of seniors being diabetic, that is another reason to lay off the sweet gifts.  Also, there are more and more people trying to reduce the amount of added sugar in their diets, and the last thing they need or want is to be sabotaged by your succulent fudge, cookies, etc.   Does this mean you should never surprise someone with a dessert on their doorstep or give a box of chocolates every again?  Certainly not!  But, you can give a tasty gift to your neighbors without spiking their blood sugar. Here are some delicious ideas: 

  • Spice rubs or mixes. 
    Whether you purchase them premixed, or come up with your own inexpensive concoctions, the varieties are endless.  Here are a few links to my favorite homemade rubs:
    tennessee rubdown   creole seasoning blend  italian seasoning blend
  • Produce package: Citrus Snowman or Fruit basket. 
    One of my favorite gifts in December was a pineapple with a cute bow and a note.  It was such a refreshing interruption of the endless cookie-train.
  • Kitchen tool or gadget. 

    Who wouldn’t love a smooth, rust-free muffin pan, or a whisk that still has all it’s tines? 
  • Infused vinegars or oils with a few fun recipes to use them in. 
    You can buy them in gourmet food and kitchen stores or online or you can make these yourself. infused vinegar recipes
  • Nuts. 
    For those looking for a ready-to-go snack item, nuts are a great savory, crunchy option that is loaded with antioxidants, heart healthy fats, fiber and protein
Think outside the sugar cube this year and let your gifts reflect not only your generosity but your sincere wishes for a healthy new year.