What Are You Waiting For!

If you are one of those people who waits for the last-minute to start your Christmas shopping and need help pulling it together, the posse has just arrived!

Although I am going to focus on Christmas, the following tips can be helpful when applied to all holiday celebrations, as well as celebrations throughout the year.

First and most importantly, make it a point to know the giftee.

Here are some helpful ideas.

If you know the giftee loves to cook, assemble an array of kitchen tools and/or linens, and a unique cookbook.  I love shopping at stores such as, Sur La Table for these kinds of items.

Maybe the giftee is an avid gardener?  In this case, arrange a selection of handheld garden tools.  Include a gardener’s apron and a package of spring bulbs.  Home Depot is the place to visit for success with arranging this gift.

How about the giftee who enjoys cozy comfort?  Be creative!  Put together a few packages of popcorn, a lap fleece and Starbucks hot chocolate and winter shaped marshmallows.  Who could resist this assortment cuddled up on the sofa watching old movies on a snowy winter night?

Here is a gift idea that I received several years ago and the friend that gifted me is off the “what should I buy this year” hook.  This gift is able to be renewed year after year by the gifter.  My friend provided me with two magazine subscriptions, Martha Stewart Living and Oprah.  For me and my friend this is the gift that keeps on giving!

I think you get the idea by now and can go it alone in creating gift packages that are both thoughtful and useful; and here is a secret…shh, these gift packages can be both time-saving and cost-effective.  Once the gift packages are purchased, ditch the boxes and wrapping paper, tags and ribbon purchases.  Employ this helpful hint and not only will you be saving time and money, you will be saving the planet, and your giftee’s energy with lessening the amount of trash to the curb.

The secret is, buy a Christmas stocking and stuff it with your treasure!  Simple designed Christmas stockings are manufactured in bulk, and therefore are relatively inexpensive. especially when compared to the price of wrapping paper and ribbon; and they can be “hung by the chimney with care” year after year by the giftee.

What are you waiting for?!  Journey on down to your favorite shopping spot or hop online to get started.  Only two more weeks to go!

Peace and love this holiday season,

India

 

Christmastime is Here

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and truly it is, but does it feel that way for everyone?
Santa arrives with a sleigh full of packages and Christmas for some of us carries its own baggage. Office parties, family gatherings, friends making merry all sound marvelous but it can have a hollow echo if your heart is heavy. So how do we navigate all the different shades of a blue Christmas?
I began to slide down the slippery slope of sadness; a distinct memory of a terribly stressful holiday gone by had robbed me of any sign of cheer. I was unwrapping ornaments & sobbing when the realization dawned, I did not have to shoulder this sorrow alone. I chose to reach out to trusted hearts. A conversation of encouragement changed the filter I was gazing through; those same ornaments now spoke of freedom and precious moments of peace.
So, as you go about your “holi-daze” take time to remember you deserve kindness and the “presence” of the moment. Look around your circle, I dare say you will find another outstretched hand in need of your touch.
“A hand for each hand was planned for the world.”

Sea & Skye

Coincidence Or Is It?

There have been times in my life where situations or events have happened and I thought to myself, wow what a coincidence. Was it really though? Lately I’m not so sure. I’m starting to think nothing happens by chance but there are signs pointing us in the right direction.
One beautiful fall morning I decided to go to my favorite local farm stand. They serve the best coffee and apple cider donuts. As I sat at my table sipping my coffee and admiring the beautiful fall foliage, I spotted a familiar face walking towards the door. I jumped out of my seat and ran to the door to greet of all people, my cousin with open arms. I could not believe my eyes. She lives an hour away and woke up that morning and decided to take a drive to Long Island because she had a craving for an apple cider donut from Kerber Farms of all places. What a coincidence or was it, that we ended up at the same place, at the same time; or perhaps it was the universe drawing us together
Currently, at this point in my life I am at a crossroad. My husband and I have decided to separate after 14 years of marriage. Needless to say, there are many questions going through my head. For example, am I making the right decision, will I ever find happiness, how do I heal the pain? The list of questions goes on and on.
Most of the time I am walking through life blinded by the hectic pace of work and motherhood so I often miss the signs around me. That fall morning when I saw my cousins face, I knew it was a sign that everything was going to be ok. She and I share a special connection although we do not see or speak as often as I would like she always has this way of appearing when I am in need of some emotional support. As you know a woman never tells their age, so I will say as a thirty-something, single mother of two, there will be days when I am clawing to hold on to my sanity and I receive a random text from my cousin simply saying “I’m thinking of you and sending prayers,” and this coincidence pulls me down from the edge of the cliff. It’s like we are connected on some wave length. A frequency. A divine power.
Science may say it is some quantum force that pulls us together. Something like the six degrees of separation. But I like to think of it as a spiritual connection that binds the wave lengths from one loved one to another. Something to ponder over a good cup of coffee.
Why not take this day to recognize the signs the Universe is sending to you?
Journey on….

Virgo

 

Blaze A New Trail

Now that the warmer weather has hit Long Island, I have awoken from hibernation and I am having a hard time taming my spring fever. I cannot get enough of being outside in nature feeling the warm sun beat down on my skin. At times, I often cannot decide what I want to do first. There are so many options. Do I want to go to the beach, take out my paddle board, or hit up one of my favorite outdoor restaurants? Decisions decision! Honestly, my favorite outdoor activity lately has been hiking.
The kids and I discovered a great set of trails nearby in a little town called Cold Spring Harbor. We stumbled upon this hidden gem walking through this quaint village. As we began our journey up a steep incline my 5-year-old was so intrigued. He was filled with wonder as to what awaited him at the top of the steps. Would there be fairies, owls, a magic tree? We had a blast discovering nature together. The best part was, no one was asking for an I-pad or smart phone. We were engaged in conversation and connecting to the world around us. The beauty that we discovered filled us with positive vibes and paved the way for meaningful conversations and laughs. It also provided an opportunity for me to teach my children the importance of being mindful. That’s when you allow your mind to shut out the noise from daily life. It’s so important for me to teach my babies how to tune into their inner-self and use mother nature to guide them through the process.

familyhike
Hiking isn’t just good for your mind it’s good for your body. Hiking is a powerful cardio work out that can:
*Lower the risk for heart disease
*Improve blood pressure
*Strengthen your core
*Build strength throughout the rest of your body
*Help control weight
*Most importantly boost your mood. “Research has showed that hiking has a positive impact on fighting the symptoms of stress and anxiety,” says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society.
No matter where you are in your life, single, married, or dating hiking offers you the same benefits. If you haven’t done so lately, get out and find some hiking trails. Discover something while being engulfed by trees and the sounds of mother nature whispering in your ear. Trust me your body and mind will thank you.

virgo

Keep the Glow…and the Go!

Stay the Course!
Summer is just around the corner and savvy gals, guys too, have indulged in spa mani-pedi soothers, and hair mask and face mask smoothers to exfoliate away the effects of a long winter. Now, it’s time to think about how to keep the glow going until Labor Day? One of the ways I’m going to do it is to concentrate on creating a healthy, nutritious, delicious, summer meal plan. Frutti de mare! Pesce! No matter how you say it, preparing and eating fresh fish is a fabulous way to keep the glow and go in your summer.
Meal idea 1, think whole fish. Nothing is more delicious than a whole stuffed fish sizzling on the grill. Best catches for the grill are branzino, red snapper or sea bass. It’s a little work.
First, purchase the fish sliced down the middle with the cavity cleaned. At home, place the whole fish in the sink and brush the scales off, discard the scales. Then fill the sink with a cool water, kosher salt bath. Wash the fish inside and out.
Next, line the kitchen counter with wax paper and lay the fish down on the paper bed. Fill the cavity with fresh parsley, crushed garlic and lemon slices. Then sprinkle grated cheese across the filling and drizzle with olive oil. Close the fish and brush the entire fish with olive oil.
Grill the fish over a moderately high grill flame until it begins to char. Turn and grill until the skin chars and the flesh is white throughout. Grilling time will depend on the size of the fish, but a medium size fish will take about 10 minutes on each side. Transfer the fish to a platter and drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Meal idea 2, who doesn’t like Paella? Looking for a lighter way to prepare Paella? Follow a basic Paella recipe and substitute Quinoa for the rice. It truly is delicious!
Soup to nuts, or should I say boat to table😊 menu for 6:
Raw Bar Appetizer:
Two-dozen little neck clams, washed well – place the clams on a medium heat grill, when the clams open completely transfer to a platter. Have waiting on the table a tray or caddy with bottles of Tabasco and generous lemon wedges.
Two-dozen fresh oysters, shucked – place the oysters on a platter, accompanied by red cocktail sauce and a vinegar dip (1/2 cup of white vinegar chopped red and white onions) place all ingredients in a jar up to three hours before serving. The mixture will be a lovely shade of light pink at serving time.
Fresh coleslaw (I like the vinegar variety), cucumber salad, and tri-color cherry tomatoes turned in olive oil and chopped basil.
Main Course:
Grilled branzino prepared as above.
Mesclun salad – lemon and olive oil dressing – drizzle lettuce with olive oil and squeeze the juice of one large lemon, toss.
Grilled asparagus – fresh asparagus, wash and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt, grill until lightly charred, place on a platter sprinkle with olive oil, breadcrumbs and grated cheese, toss.
Complete the meal with crusty bread…. don’t forget the chilled white wine or chilled sparkling water with lemon.
Dessert:
Homemade sorbet – 4 cups fresh honeydew cubed (approximately 1 honeydew) freeze the cubes overnight. Place the frozen honeydew and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup water pulse in a Cuisinart or blender. Place in a bowl and freeze for 1 hour. Serve immediately…. or serve market bought sorbet, but the homemade variety is awesome and no refined sugar!

Dessert wine and or expresso served with bakery biscotti round out dessert…. enjoy!

India