10 Budget Friendly Valentine’s Ideas

Time to ditch the typical and try some Valentines ideas that are unique, thoughtful and budget friendly for Valentine’s Day.

valentines day, 10 budget friendly valentines ideas, hearts, love, valentines 2018, CT, bloggerI will never tell my husband not to give me flowers or chocolate. With heavy emphasis on chocolate. ūüôā However there are many small, thoughtful and loving ways to say I love you this Thanksgiving for the sweetheart in your life.

10 Budget Friendly Valentine’s Ideas

  1. Get busy in the kitchen. ( No not that kind of “get busy”, although also budget friendly!) Bake their favorite treats! Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies or brownies into hearts and arrange in a store-bought valentines bag or box with a love note. Check out this recipe for wine gummies
  2. Make a dream dinner. You know the one you would normally pay over $150 between the two of you for. I am betting it will be at least half the prices. This of course takes from prepping and planning but get some pretty candles to light and set the table with pretty placements and decor and you are Valentine’s Day ready.
  3. Print out pictures. Sounds easy right? How many of you have your most intimate and important memories on your phone? Print them and create a photo book of your most fun and important memories together! Better yet you can log onto Snapfish and do it all online via the web and have it shipped! This might be too soon for this year but think ahead for next year.
  4. Plan an excursion! A surprise to a local winery and a packed basket of cheese, and fruit is a romantic way to say I love you. Maybe the guy in your life is a beer guy. Go to a local brewery for a tour and lunch with a beer pairing!
  5. Get pampered. For what you can spend on flowers, send her to the spa for a massage or to her favorite nail salon for a manicure and pedicure.
  6. Get the day off! The best thing you can offer a mom or the love in your life is the day off. Schedule activities for the kids, get them out of the house for the day or just get her out of the house to do what fulfills her most!  All this takes is your time, no money needed.
  7. Create poetry. Ok, maybe not to the likes of British Sonnets, but  you can put into words how you met and your love story in a blank notebook with some pretty graphics. Address the contents into chapters of your story and add personal photos or momentos!
  8. Take a class together! Schedule a couples painting or cooking class. Many times they come with food or wine and can be a great night out! Not to mention meeting other couples looking to get creative.
  9. Dinner and a movie. Create a date night right in your home. Plan a special dinner, candle light and your sweetheart’s favorite flick. Include popcorn, candy and special blanket to cozy up on the couch!
  10. Volunteer. Sometimes showing others love can bring you closer to the ones you love. Find volunteer opportunities at http://www.volunteermatch.org¬†and volunteer as a couple to a ask close to your “heart”.

Don’t forget the kids! Click here for children friendly ideas.

Promixx 2.0 Vortex Mixer Shakes It Up!

(This post is sponsored. Promixx provided me with the 2.0 Vortex Mixer in return for my review. All opinions are my own.)

So excited to share this with you! Many of my readers know I am a Sales Representative by day and spend all of my work days in the car on the go. If you are on Instagram, you can often see my quirky travels documented on Instastories @chargingyouup.

Fitness and health is also a big part of my life. I box, run and weight lift. I also have initiated a Keto diet several months ago,  so this always leads to some interesting and creative lunch prep on most days because I have no way of warming up food. I have actually gotten used to cold eggs and meat! True story. My go to standard is usually having extra snacks like  protein bars and powder.

I was fortunate enough to try out the Promixx 2.0 Vortex Mixer!¬† I have spent tons of money nutritional bottles over the years with seals that don’t work and spill once tipped over. Between work and the gym, I need something durable and reliable. Many I have found are just not durable and have a shelf life of 6 months before wear and tear set in or they break.

Specifically, the Promixx 2.0¬† Vortex MIxer solves alot of problems for being a road warrior! For one, there is no spoon or mixing involved. You can add a nutri-pod and store your favorite powder in the bottom then pour it in and switch the bottom back to mixing.¬† ¬†I pour, mix with water and the bottle goes into my lunch bag for cleaning at home later. Super convenient!¬† I love that it is slim enough to fit in my car console. I have travel mugs that don’t even fit. Talk about annoying! Having used other mixing¬† bottles in the past, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it mixed leaving no powder clumps and its ease of use! And let’s face it, you can’t take your Nutri -Bullet or Blender with you on the road.

Product Features

  • Lithium-ion USB rechargeable motor with market-leading power output and torque
  • Includes fully integrated NUTRiPOD¬ģ¬†supplement storage container (60g)
  • Detachable¬†motor for ultra light-weight portability and easy cleaning
  • Specially designed blunt X-Blade‚ĄĘ¬†to¬†preserve micronutrient integrity
  • 100% watertight seal to prevent leakage
  • 600ml capacity with measuring scale¬†(ideal fill 250-450ml)
  • 100% BPA & DEHP free –¬†highly durable, food grade plastic (SGS Certified)
  • Internal self-cleaning (simply add warm water, detergent and activate vortex)
  • CE certified product
  • 1 Year limited warranty

Perfect for:

  • Powdered nutritional supplements (100g capacity):
    – Protein powders (including casein);
    – Mass gainers and carbohydrate formulas;
    – Non-instantized formulas and many more!
  • A world of every-day food and beverages:
    – Pancake batter;
    – Eggs;
    – Baby formula;
    – Cocktails;
    – Nut butters;
    – Yogurts and oats;

Check out my tutorial video!

Promixx 2.0 Vortex Mixer

Not just for adults! The Promixx 2.0 would also be a perfect mixer for kids participating in after school or weekend sports. Fill the nutri-pod with electrolyte powder and the mixer with water and they are hydrated for the big game.  For little ones, imagine being able to mix baby formula with no lumps while on the road. Mommy problem solved!

Promixx 2.0 Vortex Mixer, Promixx, nutritional bottles, shaker bottles, blender bottle, health

Promixx

The  Promixx  Vortex Mixer and all Promixx shakers and bottles can be found at http://www.promixx.com  

Do you guys use nutritional bottles or mixers and if so what supplements do you use in them?

Beauty Bag to Go!

(This post contains affiliate links )

Every women should have beauty to go bag for those unfortunate mishaps and unexpected accidents. You know, those mornings you are dressed up and meeting your boss for a meeting and drive over a bump in the road and spill your coffee on your lap. Or when you realize the hem of your pants decided to come down and hang out for the day.

How many of those unexpected have happened to you? I know it is too many to mention for myself! So learning from my mistakes, I have a beauty to go bag on me with all types of essentials that can help with a beauty emergency or mishap while traveling or at work.

This should be separate from what is in your handbag but can fit into your handbag or desk at work. It does not have to be large either!

Beauty Bag to Go essentials

Of course this is just a small list to get you started. As you find yourself having these beauty emergencies, you will naturally add other items in your beauty to go bag that you know will save the day. At least you will feel better knowing you have prepared a bit for what life can through on us!

What is your must have beauty emergency item?

Red Bee in Weston is All the Buzz

Red bee honey, red bee, honey, CT, weston, blogger, all naturalThis past weekend I ventured out in the wintry weather to Red Bee in Weston, CT in the cold with my fellow CT Blogger Babes of CT Blogger Collective to experience a variety of natural and locally sourced honey. I have been hearing the “buzz” about Red Bee for quite some time. I was excited to visit once the opportunity came my way.

About Red Bee


Carla Marina Marchese is the designer and beekeeper behind the iconic brand Red Bee Honey, and the author of Honeybee: Lessons from An Accidental Beekeeper and the co-author with Kim Flottum (editor of Bee Culture Magazine) of The Honey Connoisseur: Selecting, Tasting, and Pairing Honey. She is a Member of the Italian Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey and founder of The American Honey Tasting Society.

Red bee honey, red bee, ct, weston, blogger, all natural

Marina discussing Red Bee Honey

The products

Red Bee Honey as a unique flavor depending on the types of flowers the bees visited. We were pleased to try Blueberry, Buckwheat, Creamy Clover and Orange. All were very distinct and special. Marina provided us with cups of ricotta and yogurt to mix the different honey with as well as cacao bits, oranges, bee pollen and pomegranate.  My favorite was the Creamy Clover and Buckwheat which was darker than the others and had a bold flavor.

red bee honey, red bee, weston, CT, blogger, all natural, honey

Buckwheat Honey

red bee honey, red bee, honey, ct, blogger, all natural, honey

Honeycomb

In addition to the tasting we were able to try a large array of naturally made beauty products named Rosape Skin Care. Products such as lip balm, foot cream,  facial cream and even a natural bug spray! I know from experience is hard to find a good bug spray that can be natural and be effective.  All the products were handmade using fresh plant-based ingredients with no animal products, Parabens or alcohol. Very impressive!

If you are interested in coming to visit Red Bee, Marina has a variety of tastings and workshops available here.:http://www.redbee.com/events. She also does private events! If you are interested in visiting the shop, it is by appointment only. The shop has a large variety of soaps, beauty products, small gifts and of course HONEY!

To contact Marina or visit, please go to http://www.redbee.com/contact.

For more things from Marina on honey and recipes click here

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve Cocktail Considerations

We all know that New Year’s and champagne go hand in hand. But how many of you other than on New Year’s are drinking champagne other than at midnight?

New Year's cocktail considerations, New Years Eve, cocktails, Dec 31st, Happy New Year, drinks Why not toast in the New Year with some different cocktails and save the champagne for midnight only. Most of the time we don’t get creative with our drinks because we just have not taken the time to research a recipe or take the initiative to buy the needed ingredients. I’ve found that many of the handmade craft cocktails in my favorite restaurants are pretty simple to make at home with the right tools and 2-3 ingredients. And by no means do they have¬†to have alcohol! Do some research as there are plenty of “mocktail” recipes out there! I listed one non-alcoholic option below.

Here also are some suggestions to have for a basic well stocked tool kit for your bar so you can make them with ease. Don’t feel you need to buy everything. Start small with a cocktail shaker and jigger. Other things will come as you get more creative like a muddler. Oh and don’t forget those garnishes! I am a sucker for a nice piece of rosemary, a berry or lemon peel decorating my drink!

Bar Essentials

  • Cocktail Shakers
  • Bottle opener ( duh)
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Muddler ( for muddling fruits into your drinks)
  • Jigger for measuring
  • Variety sizes of glassware like tall , martini, and highball
  • I have listed some of the best cocktails to consider here for you from some of the webs most popular sites. Take a look!

New Year’s Eve Cocktail Considerations

Cranberry Spice Cocktail

Apple Cider and Rum Punch

Peach Cosmo

Citrus 75

Strawberry Sombrero

Peppermint Egg Nog Punch

Cranberry Sparkler (non-alcoholic)

I am looking forward to New Year’s Eve with a homemade dinner and quiet evening in reflecting on this past year. Life has brought me so many joys so that when things don’t go the right way, it definitely softens the bump. I guess that is what life is anyway. A series of memories and experiences. Here is to having more joys than sorrows and more laughs than cries. Wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Manchester Holiday Get Away

We decided a quick getaway to Manchester, Vermont was the perfect way to kick off the holiday weekend. Many would think.. who would go away the night before Christmas Eve? Well, sometimes you have to get away to recharge, renew and reconnect. And that is just what we did. No plan, no agenda, just the open road and a hotel reservation.

Manchester, Vermont, Get Away, Holiday, CT, blogger

Downtown Manchester

Manchester is a bustling town in Vermont and unlike many of its serene, quiet and woodsy ski towns that surround it, Manchester is full of life and excitement. About 5 miles from Stratton Ski Area and Bromley Mountain, Manchester is where you can go for more food options, sightseeing and shopping.

We started by checking into our hotel at Homewood Suites by Hilton. A beautiful and newer hotel with gracious space and free breakfast in the morning. The hotel was full of ski families and folks like us getting away for Christmas. We headed out to our favorite restaurant The Copper Grouse located in The Taconic Kipton Hotel. Another gracious and more high-end hotel that is pet friendly and has beautifully decorated hallways and lobby.

manchester, Vermont, the copper grouse, get away, holidays, CT, Blogger

The bar at The Copper Grouse

The Copper Grouse is crafted American Fare with authentic local fare. Everything to the buffalo sauce and salad dressing was homemade and you could tell. Using locally sourced and flavorful ingredients, The Cooper Grouse takes American dishes to a new level. We tried the Cheddar Ale Soup which was perfect for a rainy day that we had. We also tried both types of chicken wings. Maple Siracha and Sesame Maple. Both were just as good as the other! They came with a fresh homemade blue cheese sauce that was not too overpowering.

They also have beautifully complemented cocktails. The Fireside and War of the Roses were our favorites. Both have fresh garnish of lemon or rosemary. 

After we replenished, it was time to shop. One of my favorite places is the Northshire Bookstore. Books of every kind for young and old as well as gifts, stationary, candles, scarves and an extensive children’s section on the second floor with a hideaway bunk to read. Their is all kinds of reading nooks in this bookstore. You could hide and get lost in a book all day if you wanted to.

Northshire bookstore, manchester, vermont, getaway, travel, holiday, CT, blogger

Whimsicle and beautiful gifts and stationary

Manchester, Vermont, holiday, CT, Blogger, travel

Northshire Bookstore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If books aren’t your thing, fret not! Manchester is known for its high end¬† outlet shopping. The Designer Outlets has something for everyone! Here is just a list of some of the stores you can browse! Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Michael Kors, Theory, Armani, Crabtree & Evelyn, Ann Taylor and more. Click on the link above for a full listing of stores.

Manchester, vermont, get away, outlet shopping, CT, Blogger, holidayWe were not able to hit them all but I got some deals at Chico’s, Loft and some gifts at Crabtree & Evelyn and The Kitchen Collection. If you go to their website above, you can see weekly specials and coupons to use at the Outlets when you plan your visit.

Once we were shopped out we went back to the hotel to rest and headed over again to the Copper Grouse for dinner. This time it was Caesar Salads for both of us, their roasted warm nuts and the Copper Grouse Burger. We kept the cocktails the same for dinner. Creatures of habit I guess!

 

Last year after first going to this restaurant I was obsessed with the Roasted Warm Nuts so decided to make a copper cat version you can find by clicking on the link.

Manchester is a great weekend get away to see scenic Vermont, take in the dining and shopping and maybe even skiing at nearby Stratton or Bromley. I know we will be back soon.

Manchester, Vermont, get away, holiday, CT, Blogger, travel

 

Best Holiday Treat Recipes

What is your best holiday treat? Mine is peanut butter blossoms!

If you have not started baking for the holidays yet, you still have time. Last night I was elbow deep in making peanut butter blossoms and cookies and cream bark for the weekend festivities! I like having some baked goods completed for family holiday gatherings or unexpected friends who pop over to send their holidays greetings. The Chocolate Pumpkin Bread and Blueberry Lemon Scones are a great addition to Christmas brunch or the day after when you clearly have filled your kitchen time quota for the holiday. Make ahead and enjoy.

Best Baking Recipes, DIY, Gifts, Holiday baking, cookies, I have curated a list from blog post past of my favorite holiday treats. Some are breads, some edible gifts and then there are cookies! Click on link for full recipe and posts. Happy Holidays!

Best Holiday Treat Recipes

  1. Holiday Madness Bars 
  2. Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread:
  3. Wholesome Homemade Granola Bars:
  4. Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies:
  5. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:
  6. Gone in a Day Granola
  7. No Bake Peanut Butter Squares:
  8. How to Create a Mason Cookie Jar:
  9. Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Scones:

Best holiday treats, DIY, holiday baking, holiday cookies, christmas cookies, gifts

What is your all-time favorite holiday treat? Season’s Eatings!¬†

5 Sanity Saving Tips for the Holidays

We all love the holidays.  However sometimes the stuff that comes with it can be stressful. Shopping, baking, cooking, decorating, holiday parties, work functions, family disagreements to name a few.

I actually love most of these things minus the family disagreements. However, I feel like all these things get crammed up in one month and can cause a large amount of overwhelm. After the holidays you can sit back and not even remember enjoying special moments or time with family because you were so consumed with events, planning and “doing”.

To help minimize the stress and keep your sanity, I created 5 Sanity Saving Tips for the Holidays that you can easily sprinkle into your day and week to help you calm down and enjoy the holiday season.

5 Sanity Saving Tips for the Holidays!

Carve out me time. I know it sounds simple but it is so important. Self care is often overlooked as other family members needs take precedent. Treat yourself to 20 minute of reading a book alone, a manicure, take a special class at the gym you have not made time for or call your best friend and just gab.sanity saving tips, 5 tips, holidays, stress, destress

Put thought into your gifts. Sometimes we buy because we have to. We feel obligated perhaps or run out of what to get someone. Take some time ahead of the holidays to think a bit more about your shopping list, who is on it and how they best could be appreciated this year. It might not be something bought at all! Perhaps they need a day off from their kids and you can volunteer to be the babysitter. Thing outside the box!

Scale down the kitchen time. I know I have done this recently and it helps. Don’t feel the need to have everything homemade or bake for every single neighbor. It is fine to buy treat and bring that store-bought pie to your holiday party.¬† I recently bought several holiday boxes of Andes Mints, tied bows on them and gave them out to my son’s after care staff. They were under $2 but most importantly saved me time as well as money.

Savor the moment. Hit pause! Put your phone away at your childs holiday concert and take it in. Many moments we can never take back. I always think of life as a series of moments. Some good, some bad. Many right in the middle! Make them count.sanity saving tips, 5 tips, holidays, destress

Eat, Sleep, Repeat! Yes. Eating well and not filling up on too much sugar and junk is always a struggle at the holidays. Plan ahead a bit and make sure you are making some healthy choices along with the occasional indulgence. This will help you feel better mentality and physically. And by all means get enough rest. When you are well rested, you can take on anything.

In closing, the holidays are always going to be stressful to some degree. Learning how to hit the pause button and incorporate some of these tips each week will help put a bit more joy and less stress into your holiday season.

Lastly, I want to THANK YOU my loyal readers, fellow bloggers and anyone new to my blog for your support and engagement. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!

 

Mason Jar DIY Gifts

As if the holidays are not stressful enough with having to decorate, shop for family and friends and attend holiday functions, you also have those other important people to show your appreciation during the holidays.DIY, homemade, holiday gifts, teacher gifts

I’m talking about the babysitter, teachers, mail carrier, neighbors, bus driver.. you catch my drift. By all means if you bought an actual gift for all these people you likely would be broke by New Years! Something small, affordable and homemade is always easy. Besides most people just want to know they are thought of and appreciated!

I was lucky to get mason jars 50% off at the craft store.¬† Mason jars are so versatile. I bought several as well as paper shreds for stuffing, tags and raffia. You could also use holiday ribbons or bows. Be¬†creative. The stuffing is great for a filler and to ensure the contents don’t shift in the jar.¬†I filled my jars with http://laurenslatest.com/cookies-cream-christmas-bark/¬† I loved that it only needed 3 ingredients! I changed the name to holiday as I was not sure which holidays my recipients celebrated. Either way it is the perfect 3 ingredient treat to make fast. I love using raffia during the holidays. I think it gives the item a rustic vibe! I tied the raffia around the jars and put a tag through it labeling the bark.

 

Mason jars, DIY, homemade, holiday gifts, teacher giftsMason jars, DIY, homemade, holiday gifts, teacher giftsmason jars, DIY, homemade, holiday gifts, teacher gifts

Other suggestions to fill Mason jars.

  • Holiday M&M’s and Kisses
  • Chocolate covered pretzels
  • Manicure Jar! Fill with nail polish, file, hand cream and other manicure items for the babysitter
  • Homemade cookies or brownies( Buy larger size jars for full size cookies)
  • Money Jar! Lottery tickets and gold chocolate coins
  • Hot cocoa, chocolate spoons and marshmallows
  • Coffee Break Jar! 2-3 coffee pods, sweeteners, chocolate spoons
  • Tea Time! Mini jar of honey, tea bags, sugar packets, silver spoon
  • Cookie Mix! Layer all the dry ingredients to someones favorite treat
  • Breakfast in a Jar! Create an overnight oats in a jar with oats, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon and coconut
  • Homemade Jam. ( I mean they are mason jars. ūüôā )
  • Office supplies. Post-It Notes, fun pens or pencils, stickers, colorful paperclips and tacks, mini planner or calendar
    Mason jars, DIY, homemade, holiday gifts, teacher gifts

Most Popular Christmas Candy By State

It may not seem like a huge sweets holiday, but the Christmas candy season really is. Think about all the baking and decorating and making fun crafts with kids that happens in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

For more state by state fun candy facts click here:

https://www.candystore.com/blog/holidays/christmas-candy-popular-state

Christmas Candy List by State
Christmas candy list by state by CandyStore.comSource: CandyStore.com