Survive the holidays, slim and serene

 Just 2 of these healthful skewers and a glass of wine is about 150 calories.Plan your indulgences
If you are going to a party eat lightly that day and even the day before. Don’t skip meals as it leads to binging. Stick to lean protein, plain, on starchy vegetables and lightly-dressed salads.
 
Two glasses of wine or two simple cocktails plus a few canapés can add to 650 to 1,000 calories. That is almost half to a third of many women’s daily allowance. One five-ounce glass of wine is about 100 calories and two ounces of plain liquor – for example, vodka or gin – is about 160. An average shrimp canapé will run about 50 calories. A skewer of mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil is about 75 calories. Most small canapés average about 150 calories. However, fried or cheesy items can be 300 for a few bites.
 
You can see how quickly a little party nibbling adds up. And be aware that alcohol lowers your willpower. If you drink too much you may be tempted to gobble up too many treats.
 
So, eat and drink slowly. Have a glass of water or diet sodas between cocktails or after you reach your limit. Chat and mingle far from the bar and buffet. Dance if you can. If you are bored, it is time to go home, brush your teeth, and go to bed.
 
Remember drinking too much is not only fattening, but too much alcohol disturbs normal sleep patterns. This can be a disaster if you need to work the next day. Arrive at cocktail parties 30 minutes late, stay for an hour, and leave! The key to popularity and keeping to your diet is never being the first to arrive at or leave any party. The exception to this rule is an intimate gathering of family and old friends. Stay and enjoy old friends, but be careful not to overindulge.
 
If do have too much to drink, rehydrate before bed. In the morning, replenish your energy with vitamins such as Emergen-C or Boost. Eat lightly but have some protein. Whole wheat toast with organic nut butter or an egg is a good choice. Drink water and green tea to rehydrate.
 
Find time to exercise
Shop online for gifts and save your lunch hour for exercise. Take a walk and get some fresh air. Take a vigorous barre or relaxing yoga class. Exercise clears your mind, tones your body, and lifts your spirits. Cope with seasonal stress by making time to decompress.
 
Shopping
If you need to shop or run errands. Make a list and be organized. Take advantage of extended store hours, but also shop during off times. Call ahead to make sure the items you need are available and in stock.
 
Be creative
A gift card for a mani-pedi or a massage may be the perfect gift for a busy friend. But buy one from her favourite salon not yours! If she doesn’t have a regular salon, be sure to choose one near her home or office. Do not give hair appointments or fragrance; they are too personal. If you want to be lavish, a limo or car service is also a great gift for hard-to-buy people who deserve a reward.
 
If you know a busy mother on a budget, the gift of an evening of babysitting from her regular sitter or a bonded professional service may be her dream gift. Or offer your service as a sitter in pretty card if you know the child and are good at it.
 
It is thoughtful, but not necessary to include gift receipts.
 
Dog walking and pet sitting are great gifts. Dog walkers are getting $10 a walk and up!If you are on a tight budget relax.
 
Most people care more about how you treat them all year than anything money can buy. A good friend you can depend on to listen and be there for you is priceless. Taking the time to write cards to tell people what they mean to you is a meaningful and thoughtful gesture.
 
If you must have something to wrap and place under the tree – and many of us must – baked goods, if you are baker, are always welcome. Even dieters entertain.
 
For pet owners who work, pet-sitting and dog-walking are valuable gifts. A friend who owns two dogs pays $35 per dog a day when she goes out of town. She would love dog-sitting from a pet-loving friend!
 
Cooking, proofreading, sewing, and knitting are all welcome gift to those who can’t do it for themselves.
 
Give of yourself elegantly. Inscribe your gift in a pretty card. Believe me, it will be appreciated. Relax and allow yourself to enjoy the season in all its glory.
 
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Make your home shine at holiday time

Natural objects group together have impact!
 If you are planning to entertain over the holidays give your home a little décor lift. Sally Morse, Director of Creative Services for Hunter Douglas, the leading name in custom window fashions, has quick, easy, and inexpensive suggestions to give your home a fresh festive flair for the holidays. Here are Sally’s tips:
 
Novel Table Toppings
The dining room table is the focal point of holiday gatherings, so it’s important not to neglect your holiday table decorations. Rather than use the traditional holiday tablecloth with the same floral centerpiece, go for something inventive for the all-new upcoming holiday season. Add a cheerful, sunshine color to cold winter months with clementines. Place a bunch in glass hurricane lamps. Normally used as candleholders, the hurricanes are tall and large enough to work as a centerpiece. Line several down the middle of the table or use varying heights for a visually interesting multi-level look. Another option is to create a lemon-and-clementine leaf garland that can also run down the middle of a table. The garland can be made with lemon leaves, floral wire, and a small rope, with real lemons and clementines placed on top of the leaf runner. You can also layer clementines in a glass cake stand with sprigs of mint or cranberries for a festive, upbeat space.
 
Enchanting Light
As the temperature drops and the daylight begins to recede, it’s a good time to start thinking about investing in new window fashions that will make the most of this light to create the ambiance of a room.
Photo : Hunter Douglas Silhouette window shadings and Luminette Privacy Sheers work together for a warm and cheery holiday mood.
 
 
Reworked Art
One sure way to keep your family and friends on their toes this holiday season is to re-dress your wall art. Whether with one frame or with a wall of prints, swap your everyday art with holiday images. You can also try incorporating a punch of color and pattern by framing various holiday prints. The finished effect is a chic, very “now” look that’s just for the holidays.
 
Unique Metallic Accents
There is no better season to go to the extreme with our love of metallic and shimmer than during the holidays. There are limitless ways to introduce this decorative element into your home décor. For a new, polished idea, try incorporating a little sparkle into interiors with a glittering string of gold or silver beads hung around the Christmas tree. Also, in place of the usual holiday metallic candleholders, add some style to your celebrations by lining a variety of shimmery mercury glass urns or vases along a mantel or tabletop. 
 
With these easy tips, you will have everything you need to make your home unique and festive for the season ahead.
  
 
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PJs for everyone!

Stylish flannel PJs with matching slippers from VS are always popular!If you are looking for a popular, well-priced gift think sleepwear. Most of your close women friends and relatives will be delighted with lovely new nighttime apparel to start the year. 
 
Soft, pretty PJs are popular for lounging. A fresh, cute set is always welcome. Victoria’s Secret and La Senza offer a wide selection of cozy but stylish flannels. And there are great sales for holidays from both chains.
 
For pretty nightgowns, try specialty retailers. Belk has one of the best selections of nightgowns I have seen.
 
 
If you looking for a luxurious sleepwear you can find a good selection of elegant silk PJs or night gowns at Jones of New York Floral nightgown pretty and femininewww.victioriassecret.com or www.juliannarae.com
 
Victoria’s Secret Dreamer flannel pajamas in three lengths with matching slippers $49
Jones of New York Satin nightgown at Belk $36
Silk PJs, these from Julianna RaeJulianna Rae Devon Silk Pajama $185
 
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Gift the “reluctant” beauty

 Do you have a dear friend or relative who bemoans her lack of good skin care products? Perhaps she is too busy taking care of others or feels underserving. There are a host of reasons lovely women long for, but resist, taking care of themselves. 
 
Complete trial-size skin care kits from Murad are a perfect gift to delight the “reluctant beauty”. These kits contain complete skin care regimes, so there is nothing extra to buy. There is one for every skin type, and all are priced at less than $50. Murad is a great choice for cutting edge ingredients and effective, and easy-to-use régimes.
 
If you plan to travel over the holidays, pick up a kit for yourself. The containers are TSA- friendly, so you will have a whole regime ready to go! Choose from:
 
Acne Fighting Favorites Duo: This combo of proven skin clearing products comes with a pretty silver cosmetic bag.
 
Complete Skin Renewal features Murad Age Reform: This regime is designed to firm and hydrate.
 
Radiant Skin Renewal Kit it features Murad’s Environmental Shield
Vitamin C: This is the perfect gift for anyone who complains about hyperpigmentation or brown spots. The products work to fade discolorations and fine lines.
 
Youthful Skin Renewal features the popular Murad Resurgance line: This kit is fabulous for anyone noticing signs of aging due to peri-menopause or menopause.
 
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Give an exotic-organic gift of beauty

The Moroccan Collection Gift Set from Inventive Eco-Organics is an elegant little set of grooming essentials enriched with pure argan oil and botanicals. It is sure to delight any lady on your list with a love for the exotic and pure organics. The packaging and quality of ingredients are lovely.

The products are handcrafted with pure organic ingredients to pamper skin. They are the perfect antidote for winter dryness.  The kit includes:  Moroccan Body and Hair Wash, Moroccan Body Lotion, O2 Moroccan Argan Oil, and Seven Seas Sublime Soak.


The kits come in two sizes, from $20 to $40.
 
 
 
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Magical memoir

 
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller follows her critically acclaimed memoir, Let’s Not Go to The Dogs Tonight.
 
In her new novel, Fuller tells a sweeping and personal story of her parents’ lives and love story as colonial farmers in Africa from the 1930s to 1994.
 
Both of Fuller’s books capture her family’s personal eccentricities, triumphs, and tragedies, juxtaposed against the slow and painful decline of colonial Africa.
 
Her Scots-English parents moved to Africa in the 1930s to make their fortune. Fuller  extravagant, eccentric mother always reminded her children that she and her friends were not part of the scandalous “Happy Valley” set known for hard drinking and adultery. Instead she liked to fill her childrens’s heads with the glories of former colonial days. 
 
Fuller also tells her parent’s love story. Fuller poignantly describes how her parents gradually grow older, and her mother’s horrible bouts of depression. But, through it all her parents remain brave, in love, and resolute. This is a wonderful story about passion. Fuller captures her parents’ dedication and love for each other, Africa and way of life.
 
Fuller writes eloquently. Although her parents’s choices are not her own, she understands and respects their zeal. Her amusing family antidotes, colourful characters, and delicious prose made this book hard to put down.
 
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s night.
 
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Delicious “raw food “recipes!

Raw Magic: Superfoods for Superpeople by Kate Magic is an unusual cookbook from a knowledgeable and enthusiastic proponent of the raw food movement.
 
“There are some foods that have the power to change your life,” she says. “There are certain foods that when you eat them, your body is in heaven, your cells start singing, and your mind becomes ecstatic. ‘Yes,’ they cry in unison, ‘Yes, these
are the foods that I have been waiting for? These are the foods that I have been craving, that my body has been missing my whole life.’"
 
Getting past the dramatic language, it is an interesting idea that particular combinations of super foods can satisfy nutritional needs and help the body to preform and feel better.
 
Raw Magic focuses on foods that are termed “super foods” – such as Gogi berries, spirullina, and seaweed, to name a few – for their dense nutritional content and high antioxidant concentration.
 
Some of the ideas expressed in Raw Magic are extreme and controversial. I don't endorse them. But the raw food recipes in the book look and sound delicious
 
Kate Magic understands of how to work with raw ingredients to create tempting, nutritionally-balanced dishes. The book offers an impressive array of recipes from dips to desserts. There are clear instructions, ingredient lists, and gorgeous colored pictures of every recipe. This book would an invaluable addition to any serious vegan’s kitchen.
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Savory Brussels sprouts with pomegranate molasses

Even spout haters like these with tangy pomegrante molasse and smoky pine nutsThis is inspired from many different Middle Eastern recipes. I became intrigued after seeing Brussels sprouts prepared like this on a television show, but I couldn’t find a recipe. So, I invented one after reading various descriptions of the dish.  
 
I make these Brussels sprouts with pomegranate molasses and nuts. It is delicious, different, and addictive – and may even convert sprout haters! I think the pomegranate and nuts make it perfect for festive holiday meals.
 
Pomegranate molasses is a popular Middle Eastern ingredient. This thick, tart syrup can be hard to find, but persist. It is delicious on lamb, in salad dressings, and in a variety of Middle Eastern dishes.
 
Preheat oven 400 F/200C
2½ cups large fresh Brussels sprouts
2½ tbsp. pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp. pine nuts
Salt and pepper
 
Wash, trim, and cut in half 2 cups of large, fresh Brussels sprouts.
Heat 1 tbsp. of good oil olive in a heavy sauté pan.
When the pan and oil is hot, add the sprouts and 1-2 cloves of peeled crushed garlic.
Reduce heat to medium-high, and sauté for 2-3 minutes while stirring with a wooden spoon.
Salt and pepper to taste.
 
Transfer sprouts to a well-oiled, shallow baking pan, just large enough to hold the sprouts in a single layer.
 
Coat the sprouts with 2½ tbsp. of pomegranate molasses, and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. of pine nuts.
 
Roast in preheated 400F/200C oven for 25-30 minutes until tender. Do not overcook.
 
This dish is great with lamb, chicken, and fish, or for vegetarians, with lentils, rice, or a mélange of roast vegetables. It really is delicious and perfect for holiday entertaining!
 
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