Tag: Christmas

2018 Holiday Gift Guide | Mindful Gifts for Everyone on Your List + Plus Gifts That Give Back

Gift giving can be daunting, am I right? With the holidays right around the corner, you’ve probably already googled “gift ideas for mom” or “gift ideas for women” and most certainly “gift ideas for men” because they’re especially hard to shop for! What about that one person that doesn’t need anything or has everything?! Yep, I’ve been there too. Don’t worry, this year, I got you covered!

Are you ready to give gifts that are going to really resonate with your loved ones? Are you ready to give with intention? Are you ready to give a gift that will be remembered and cherished for many years to come? GOOD! This holiday gift guide is going to knock your socks off! Not only are these gift ideas awesome, but most of them also give back! Yep, they do good for others, meaning you’ll be feeding two birds with one scone. 😉

Holiday Gift Ideas | Books

Let’s start with books. I love gifting books because they’re the gift the keeps on giving. A single book can completely change someone’s life. Take, for example, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. This information in this book can be used to reverse heart disease, but please, don’t take my word for it. Go read the 1,700+ reviews on Amazon where readers share their testimonies and lab results. This is some really powerful reading. I’ve been gifted many books over the years, everything from fiction, to non-fiction, to cookbooks, which I still use to this day. Cookbooks make life easier and I’ve loved collecting them since I was a kid. Here are some of my most recent favorites.

 

1. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically-Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure

The New York Times bestselling guide to the lifesaving diet that can both prevent and help reverse the effects of heart disease

Based on the groundbreaking results of his twenty-year nutritional study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn illustrates that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent the progression of heart disease but can also reverse its effects.  Dr. Esselstyn is an internationally known surgeon, researcher and former clinician at the Cleveland Clinic and a featured expert in the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease has helped thousands across the country, and is the book behind Bill Clinton’s life-changing vegan diet.”

2. How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger

“From the physician behind the wildly popular website Nutrition Facts, How Not to Die reveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death.”

3. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health

“You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet. More than 30 years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.”

4. The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

“Bestselling author, longevity expert, and National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner reports on health, fitness, diet, and aging, drawing on his research from extraordinarily long-lived communities–Blue Zones–around the globe.”

5. This Cheese is Nuts!: Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home

“In their debut cookbook, The Plantpower Way, Julie Piatt and her ultra-endurance athlete husband, Rich Roll, inspired thousands to embrace a plant-fueled lifestyle, and through their advocacy efforts, podcasts, and talks, countless people are now enjoying healthier and more vibrant lives…Filled with the essential tips, tools, and mouth-watering recipes home cooks need to immerse themselves in the world of nut-based cheese-making, This Cheese is Nuts will demonstrate why nut cheeses should be part of any healthy, sustainable diet.”

6. Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

New York Times Bestseller!

 

Holiday Gift Ideas | Journals

Journals are really trending right now and I’m predicting they will be one of 2019’s biggest trends. Gratitude journals, particularly, seem to be the most popular. Why is this? Well, it seems like this trend started with CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs; many of whom, speak about the power of practicing gratitude and being mindful of the things we have. This is a practice I’ve completely embraced in the last few months and I even started a #gratitudechallenge over on my Instagram. Exercising gratitude is easy and has the power to completely transform your life. I find that since starting this practice, I’m more mindful in more aspects of my life, I have a sunnier disposition, I handle “bad” situations better, I’m kinder to others, I’m nicer to myself, and I have a more positive outlook on life and the world around me. Here are some of my favorite journals.

1.52 Lists for Happiness Journal

2. Good Days Start With Gratitude Journal

3. Diario De Gratitud

A gratitude journal for Spanish speakers. Diario de gratitud en espanol.

4. Start With Gratitude Journal

 

Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

 

1. Love Your Melon Pom Beanie

Fifty percent (50%) of net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to the Love Your Melon Fund to support our nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer, create therapeutic experiences and fund charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer.

2. One Hope Wine Gift Box

One Hope Wine partners with numerous nonprofits to help support causes that support animals, children, women, veterans, education, environment, and health. Partners include Pencils of Promise and Room to Read.

3. Conscious Steps Mens Gift Box—Socks That Give Back

This box supports the movement to combat deforestation, protect our environment, and repopulate our oceans.

4. Ceramic Oil Diffuser

An oil diffuser is such a great gift to help your loved ones unwind and relax. This one is so simple to use, just fill the water cup to the line, add a few drops of essential oil, and push the start button. Not only is it super easy to use but the soft glowing light and vase design are so pretty; it makes a stylish addition to any room. It also doubles as a night light!

5. Lush Charity Pot

“This rich and generous cream contains seven ingredients sourced from our Sustainable Lush Fund projects that support regenerative agriculture around the world. With every purchase of Charity Pot, we donate 100% of the price (minus the taxes) to small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights.”

6. Raw Sugar Body & Bath Gift Set

This product gives back! For every product purchased, one bar of soap is donated to a family in need. This brand is vegan and cruelty-free.

7. Raw Sugar Holiday Body Wash Set

The product gives back! For every product purchased, one bar of soap is donated to a family in need. This brand is vegan and cruelty-free.

8. Roma Rain Boots

For every pair you buy, a pair is donated to a child in need.

9. Krochet Kids Fox Ears Beanie

This gift gives back. Krochet Kids creates life-changing jobs through the making of apparel and accessories. They also provide social impact programming that helps communities get out of poverty.

10. Conscious Steps Womens Gift Box—Socks That Give Back

Each box plants 10 trees through Trees for the Future, promotes early detection of breast cancer through Keep A Breast, and empowers women with access to safe water through Water.org.

11. Love Your Melon Black Beanie

Fifty percent (50%) of net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to the Love Your Melon Fund to support our nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer, create therapeutic experiences and fund charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer.

12. Gift Prime

This is a gift everyone needs. I’ve been using Amazon Prime for years but when Athena was born, we used it nearly every day. This was invaluable to us because it saved us from having to go out for every little thing I needed for ourselves, the house, the dog, and the baby. Every parent knows the hassle of packing up the baby for a “quick” trip to the store. There’s no such thing; every trip somehow turns into a 2-hour long journey.  If you don’t know what to give someone, give them the gift of express delivery. Prime also comes with tons of free movies and tv shows as well as free audio books.

Prime Trial

If you’d like to try it for yourself, use this link to get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime.

13. Ruby’s Dream Big Socks

These rainbow sock are not only really cute, they also give back! Ruby’s Rainbows

“Ruby’s Rainbow is a nonprofit that grants scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes, helping them achieve their dreams of higher education while spreading awareness of their capabilities.”

14. Naja Wonder Sports Bra

Naja offers lingerie and activewear. Their products are made by single mother and female heads of household. They pay above-market wages, provide healthcare, and support child educations with stipends.

15. Matas Traders Hammered Disc Bracelet

These beautifully crafted pieces are made by artisans in India and Nepal. They come from rural areas, tribal villages, and urban slums looking for a chance to lift their families and communities out of poverty. Your purchase supports these artisans and their families for generations to come.

16. I Have Done Love Necklace

This necklace supports the Aleksander Fund by donating $12 for every I Have Done Love necklace sold. The Aleksander Fund is a scholarship to send a woman in need or who have suffered a loss to one of Jen Pastiloff’s healing retreats. It’s named after Julia Anderson’s baby boy who passed away in July 2016.

17. Love Beauty & Planet Rose Gift Set

100% of the gift set profits go to The Recycling Partnership.

18. Petit Vour — A Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Subscription Beauty Box

This is not your ordinary beauty box. These boxes are packed with high-end, vegan and cruelty-free makeup, perfumes, and beauty items. This is the perfect gift for anyone who loves animals as much as they love pampering themselves. Use code: GIFT NOW for 50% off your first box.

19. Deer Sleep Mask

These are currently on sale. Buy one get, one free!

20. Love Your Melon Blanket

Fifty percent (50%) of net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to the Love Your Melon Fund to support our nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer, create therapeutic experiences and fund charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer.

21. S’well Teakwood bottle

This water bottle keeps your water cool for 24 hours and hot drink hot for 12 hours! It was created to reduce single-use plastic water bottles and is now the most popular water bottle on the market. S’well partners with UNICEF and other important charities to do great work.

22. S’well Gold bottle

23. S’well Pink Bottle

24. S’well Silver Bottle

25. Future World Changer Tee 

Use code: SITEWIDESALE for 50% off your purchase.

This tee gives back. “Each year, millions of women and children are trafficked into sexual exploitation in India.  Sudara Freedom Fund and the certified B-Corp, Sudara, are working to change this by providing hope and opportunity through living-wage jobs, skills training, and education.  This change is possible because people like you are making donations to Sudara Freedom Fund and customers are purchasing Sudara goods.”

26. Cuddle and Kind Sebastian the Lamb Stuffed Animal 

For every doll purchased, Cuddle + Kind donates 10 meals to children in the USA and around the world.

27. Cuddle and Kind Lucy the Lamb Stuffed Animal

For every doll purchased, Cuddle + Kind donates 10 meals to children in the USA and around the world.

28. Krochet Kids Fox Stuffed Animal

This gift gives back. Krochet Kids creates life-changing jobs through the making of apparel and accessories. They also provide social impact programming that helps communities get out of poverty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Gift Ideas for Christmas 2017

We spent this past Saturday wrapping presents and keeping Athena away from the Christmas tree, lol. I can’t wait to see her open her presents on Christmas morning! We bought her some toys and a LOT of books. She’s had a natural love of books for a long time, since she was born really. Although, lately when we try to read to her she has a slightly shorter attention span and she crawls away to the nearest toy. I think it’s totally normal though. She’s learning so quickly and now, at nine months old (tomorrow!), she LOVES more interactive toys and those with a variety of textures.

I’m linking the exact items we bought for her. I feel so confident your little one will absolutely love any one of these items because Marc and I played with all these books and toys ourselves and we love them! They’re all made really well and are of high-quality materials. We even let Athena play with them for a few minutes before I wrapped them up and she was in HEAVEN. These toys range in ages from 3 months to 3 years old. We generally try to stick to age recommendations for toys. However, oftentimes, we feel like Athena becomes bored and uninterested in toys for her age group so we move up. We always evaluate toys above her age group for safety. Side note: if you’d like to evaluate toys that may be a chocking hazard, use this choke tester designed by the CPSC, Consumer Product Safety Commission. Read more about each toy below and click the item title to shop.

Melissa & Doug Classic Bead Maze

This toy is a classic. I used to think the bead maze toy was overrated but I’m not a baby and babies sure do love it. Athena played with this maze almost the entire time we were in the store and then some more when I went to wrap it. It’s made really well, no chipping or paint peeling, and has a sturdy wooden base. The exact dimensions are 11.75″ x 11.75″ x 12.5″. In case you don’t have a ruler in front of you, it fits on my lap. Teach your baby movement, shapes, colors, and more! This toy is recommended for ages 12 months and up.

Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze

There’s also a smaller version with four suction cups on the bottom, perfect for setting on highchair trays. I’m thinking of getting this one as well for traveling with. Every time we go out to eat, Athena immediately starts grabbing at anything she can get her hands as soon as we scoot her highchair in. This suction cup-based bead maze would be perfect for keeping your little occupied in such scenarios. This one is also recommended for ages 12 months and up.

Squigz Starter Set

How cute are these little suction cup toys?! Athena currently loves suction cup toys; she’s going to go bananas for these! They’re stackable so your little one can make all sorts of fun shapes with them. They’re made of smooth silicone, which means they’re super easy to clean. These would be perfect for traveling with since you can stick them on baby’s highchair tray, stroller tray, or table top while your dining out. The starter set comes with 24 pieces in a variety of colors and are recommended for ages 3 months and up.

Mirari Pop Pop Piano

This toy is so, much, fun! Athena loves pressing the piano keys and seeing the colorful jacks fly! The music is also not annoying— a very important selling point for me— lol. I read reviews on all of these toys and for this particular one, many people were concerned about the jacks being a choking hazard. The clear cover can be pulled off by strong toddler hands BUT, the jacks are too big to be a chocking hazard according to this device designed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is probably my favorite toy thus far, it’s so cute and fun! This child’s piano is recommended for ages 12 months and up.

Learning Resources Snap-N-Learn Alphabet Alligators

Fun fact about me and my sister. I taught my sister how to read and do basic math by the age of 2 (I was 5). I had a little chalkboard that I would take outside everyday and we would have alphabet and numbers lessons everyday, al fresco, lol. We would have loved these toys when we were little. These letter matching pieces will make learning so much fun! And it I love that they come in cute little alligator shapes! The container is also sturdy and can be used for storing and traveling, so useful. This toy is recommend for age 2 years old and up.

BeginAgain Color N’ Eggs Matching Puzzle

I’ve talked before about the importance of Athena learning both English and Spanish. I love finding cute and fun toys that help her do just that. These little egg puzzles are adorable! We currently only have one set of bilingual flash cards. I’ve been looking for more bilingual toys and these are perfect! I can’t stress enough the importance of teaching your child a second language. I feel so lucky to have Spanish as my first language, it’s been so helpful in understanding and learning other languages. This bilingual matching puzzle toy is recommend for ages 2 years and up.

Janod Zigolos Pull Along Drum Elk

I’m so excited for Athena to open this pull along toy. You can see her playing with it in the 7th photo from the top. She already loves dragging along her pink bunny (or any other toy, really) while she crawls around the house so I’m fairly certain she’s going to love this pull along toy. This toy is recommended for ages 18 months and up.

That’s Not My Puppy Book

We got her so many books for Christmas, including these touchy-feely books from the “that’s not my” series. She loves these books because they come with all sorts of fun textures to touch. The first one we bought her when she was 4 months old (I think) was the That’s Not My Dragon book. It’s one of her favorite books. She quickly learned where all the textured spots are and she goes right to them as soon as I turn the page, lol. Make sure to see the other “that’s not my” books in the widget below. I read through them before wrapping them and they’re so cute! This book is suitable for all ages.

Other fun books pictured above:

That’s Not My Panda

This is another touchy-feely book from the same series. It’s got cute pandas! This book is suitable for all ages.

Toot

I have to admit, the name of this book is what drew me too it. I thought it was so funny. The illustrations are simple but really cute. It’s about, you guessed it, tooting. Such a cute book. Your little ones will definitely get a giggle out of reading this. It’s part of a series, see the others in the widget below. The book is recommend for grade levels preschool and up.

Ice is Nice: All about the North and South Poles

I love this book and the one below. It’s never too early to start teaching our little ones about how the earth functions and the importance of taking of our planet. This book teaches kids about the different poles and how animals stay warm in different temperatures. It’s filled with busy colorful images that are candy for the eyes! This book is recommend for ages 4-8 years old and grade levels preschool-3.

If I Ran the Rain Forest: All About Tropical Rain Forests

This book is one of my favorites and while, like the one above, it’s recommended for ages 4-8 years old, I firmly believe it’s never too early to start teaching kids about the importance of taking care of our planet and being respectful to nature. This book teaches kids all about the trees, animals, insects, plants, and native people that inhabit the rainforest. This book is recommend for ages 4-8 years old and grade levels preschool-3.

 

Radio Flyer Wagon with Canopy

Last but not least, this adorable Radio Flyer wagon with canopy! I mean, how cute would your baby look sitting in this? I can’t wait to see Athena and Grayson sitting in this wagon as Lexi and I pull them along in the park. Oh the cuteness! I can’t even!




Christmas Vegan Sugar Cookies + Royal Icing

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Copper Cookie Cutters: William Sonoma | Vegan Sprinkles: Wilton (crystals & pearls) | Star Cookie Cutters: Target (large & small) | Vegan Sugar Cookie & Royal Icing Recipe: Your Daily Vegan

I’m finally over the trauma caused by undergoing this sugary adventure. If you follow me on Instagram you may have read my brief rant regarding these gorgeous albeit difficult-to-work-with copper cookie cutters. Now that the cookies have been cut, frosted, decorated, and eaten, I am finally ready to share all of the recipe details. Let me start by first stating that this is not my recipe. I browsed through maybe 15 vegan sugar cookie recipes before deciding on this particular one. The reasons being a) they looked really pretty, b) I wanted a soft vegan sugar cookie with just a bit of firmness (I’m not a fan of crispy cookies), and c) I was looking for a sugar cookie recipe that would hold its shape. Oh and I also wanted a simple recipe. This vegan sugar cookie recipe found on Your Daily Vegan met all of my criteria.

I recommend reading it a few times before actually getting to the baking part. She has a lot of great tips that will make a big difference in the final outcome of the cookies as well as notes on food coloring and sprinkles. I also used her vegan royal icing recipe, found on the same page.

I learned a few things about cookie cutter sugar cookies with this recipe. Personally, my tips include:

1.Roll the dough out slightly thicker than recommended.

Why?: If you roll out the dough too thin your shapes will break and fall apart when you go to pick them up to transfer them to your cookie sheet.

2. Have your cookie sheet right next to your dough.

Why?: The shorter the distance from where you cut your cookies to the cookie sheet the better. This minimizes the chance of cookie shapes breaking. Trust me, you don’t want to spend 5 minutes cutting out a single snowflake cookie only to have it fall apart while transferring it to the cookie sheet.

3.Use a thin, flat, stainless steel spatula. They’re technically called “slotted turners”.

Why?: This style spatula will make it MUCH easier to transfer the cookies from your cutout surface to your cookie sheet. It will also minimize cookie breakage. The thinner the spatula, the better. I used this one from Cutco, mainly because I’ve had it forever and I use it for everyday cooking. It just turned out to be perfectly suited for this task. The width of the spatula is also important, make sure to use a wide one to support as much of the cookie as possible while transferring it between surfaces.

That’s about it for my notes on the cookies. I only have one note for the vegan royal icing recipe. This icing, dries FAST. The largest cookie pictured above is also the biggest (wider than my palm) and most intricately decorated. If you’ll be decorating cookies of this size make sure to go by sections. I frosted and sprinkled each snowflake arm in sections after realizing how quickly this icing sets.

I was surprised at how well these turned out. They are soooooooooo good, even without the icing. And they’re super pretty. I opted for leaving out food coloring mainly because I wanted elegant looking cookies and also because I’m lazy. These would make a great holiday gift item as well, just throw then in a cellophane bag and wrap some shimmery ribbon around the top for a deliciously chic gift. Hope you guys have as much fun (and less crying) while making them as I did. Send or tag me in your baking pics, I’d love to see how they turn out!

Happy Holidays,

– J

 

 

Christmas gifts under $50

GIFTS-UNDER-50

1. Snowflake rolling pin

2. Hand-painted wallet

3. Geometric pillow case

4. Acoustic iPhone speaker

5. Japanese moss aquarium

6. Royal blue druzy necklace

7. Ceramic fox yarn bowl

8. Beachcomber mug

I’m figuratively swimming in unique Christmas gift ideas! Personally, I tend to want to keep every item I buy on Etsy that is actually intended to be a gift for others. There are just so many cool things! I’ve had my eye on number 5 for a while now. It comes from Etsy shop Pink Serissa, which was kind enough to send me one. It’s so beautiful and delicate. The aquarium includes Japanese moss balls, also known as marimo.

These balls of algae are a Japanese natural treasure and are said to live up to 200 years.

Marimo can be passed on as a family heirloom and they add an interesting touch to any room. I love the clean and delicate look of this aquarium. Keep in mind the glass of this aquarium is very thin and very delicate. It’s best placed in an area of your home where it won’t be touched very much. I accidentally broke mine after moving a glass vase next to the aquarium. In retrospect, I should have chosen a lower traffic area to display it, such as on a bookcase.

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Image from Etsy shop Pink Serissa
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Image from Etsy shop Pink Serissa

aquarium

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Single glass aquarium. Image from Etsy shop Pink Serissa

There are so many cool aquarium options in Pink Serissa’s shop. These would make a fun gift for the person that has everything. You can also find some unique terrariums in the shop. Click the links above to shop each item and follow Pink Serissa’s shop on Facebook.

 

A WALK THROUGH THE FORUM

I bring you the windows of the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. It’s that time of year when the window displays get extra pretty! Marc by Marc Jacobs always has a unique window display. This month it seems to be a Las Vegas homage with snow and the Statue of Liberty is there too.

Anthro-window-1Anthro-window-2I couldn’t resist going into Anthropologie after seeing their display, it’s so inviting.

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Anthro has some of my favorite housewares. They always have fun furniture, interesting dinnerware and beautiful, delicate glassware. I found some great gifting items you can bring your host if you’re attending a party. A whole honeycomb is not only beautiful, it’s delicious and great for sharing! This set of celestial coasters adds a hint of shimmer to a table setting without being excessive. Last, but by far not least, are the Jacinta holiday candles. I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t like to be gifted one of these candles. Each design has its own invigorating scent and can be used as decor when not lit.