The holidays are supposed to be the best time of the year –A time filled with friends, family, food, and cheer, but stress can easily distract us from the good times. It can be difficult to find a balance between your work life and your personal life, especially when the year is coming to an end. You may be pressed with deadlines and overwhelming amount of work, but finding time to enjoy the holidays is extremely important and this is why:
Stress Relief. Everyone needs a little relief here and there and the holidays are perfect for it. Work has a lot of stresses that, often times, become hard to handle. And when the stress becomes too much to bare, our mental health isn’t at its best, which ultimately affects our physical health. We do our best work when we feel our best, and taking time to relax will ensure better all-around health for our bodies and minds. This is the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the time with your family and friends. Take advantage of the holidays and gain the stress relief that you need!
Family and Friends Make Everything Better. One of the hardest things to accomplish in a hectic life is balance, especially when work seems to take up most of our time. Finding time for your personal relationships while trying to stay ahead in your career can be very challenging, but it is crucial. Spending time with your loved ones makes all of your problems seem a little bit better and the holidays are the perfect time to do so, without stressing about work. So take your time off to catch up with all of the important people in your life.
It’s the Perfect Break Before the New Year. This year may have been a tense one, full of crazy workloads, short deadlines, and chaotic assignments. And if that’s the case for you, the Holidays are the perfect time to sit back and enjoy the time you off before the start of the New Year. You have the chance to reboot and get ready for a whole year full of new assignments and projects, with a better and much more relaxed attitude then before.
It’s Christmas! You Deserve a Break. After all of the hard work you’ve put in throughout the year, it’s finally time for you to treat yourself to a nice break! Take advantage of it all! Enjoy the holidays because you definitely deserve it!
As we quickly approach Christmas it’s time to put the finishing touches on our shopping lists. Everyone always has a few people on their list that are hard to shop for and if those are the last gifts to complete your holiday shopping, try thinking outside the box and look for something unique. Unique gifts are the best gifts. They usually have great quality and meaning, and for all the people that are tough to shop for, these types of gifts are perfect. Here is a list of some unique gifts to look for thus Christmas:
- Anything homemade is always a good idea. Look for homemade candles, jewelry, clothing, candy, and maybe even beer. Homemade is always better. The quality can’t be matched and the item is probably one of kind. Look for the items when you’re out and add them to your list. You won’t regret it!
- Rare Décor would make for the perfect unique gift. Try looking for items that fit into this year’s home décor trends. And maybe try to stick with the homemade route. Having something in your home that no one else has can be exciting. Look for items like pillow covers, rugs, tables, shelves, and bed sets. The more unique, the better.
- Plants are great fillers. Try looking for really unique combinations of plants for someone’s home or maybe just for decoration. You can purchase a variety of different plants for anyone. Whether it be flowers, small trees, or potted plants, you can easily make them look great for the perfect holiday gift.
All of these items can be found all around Pittsburgh and luckily there is one specific place where you might be able to find them all. The pop up Holiday Market in Market Square has all of the best unique gifts you can think of. With a variety of different vendors, the market has some of the best quality items that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s the perfect place to shop for the last minute unique gifts.
And if you run out of time or ideas, don’t panic! Gift cards are always great for anyone! And gift cards to restaurants are just as good as gift cards to retail stores Everyone love free stuff and giving a gift card gives people the freedom to choose what they want. Sometimes gift cards are the only way to go. Giving them ensure that whoever you buy for will love your gift!
With the sudden temperature drop, the idea of staying warm and cozy inside seems more and more appealing. With the weekend approaching, and the weather not getting any warmer, it is the perfect time to fill your kitchen, (and your stomach!), with the aroma of freshly baked cookies.
Although many people have tried and true cookies recipes, it can be fun to branch out and try something new. There is a whole host of different types of cookies, recipes, and variations on recipes that are just waiting to be tried.
Sugar cookies are the classic holiday cookie. They are easy to make, fun to decorate, and of course taste delicious. With this recipe, you can make enough to share with the entire family. This is a great cookie to make if you are bringing cookies to a holiday party because they are universally enjoyed. For a recipe, visit: http://www.inkatrinaskitchen.com/best-sugar-cookie-recipe-ever/
You cannot go wrong with a chocolate chip cookie. These thick, gooey ones are guaranteed to be irresistible. The recipe provided by the link is one of the best because the author gives tips and tricks throughout to help you make the best cookies possible. There is also a video in case any instructions are unclear. To check out the recipe, visit:
Peanut Butter Blossoms are the perfect cookies to make for a cookie exchange since they are small in size, simple to make, and a deeply loved treat. This recipe from Betty Crocker provides the measurements for a yield of 84 – be warned! Get it here:
Snickerdoodles provide the perfect blend of sweet and cinnamon to get you in the holiday spirit. The recipe below, from the Lil Luna blog, is one of my all-time favorites. It produces 3-4 dozen soft, perfect cookies that will only help to increase your popularity among friends. Check out the recipe here: https://lilluna.com/recipe-tip-of-the-week-food-tutorial-snickerdoodles/
Naturally, it isn’t the holidays if you don’t make at least one batch of gingerbread cookies to decorate and enjoy. These cookies usually take a little bit longer to make at an estimated 2 hours and 23 minutes by the recipe provided below. Despite the slight time commitment, it is absolutely worth it. Check out the recipe at http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/the-most-wonderful-gingerbread-cookies-80156 and, if you are looking for decorating ideas, be sure to visit www.pinterest.com for ample inspiration.
Whether you’re baking in mass for a holiday party or whether these cookies are strictly for you, (no judgement here,) try one of these fabulous recipes. When you do, be sure to post a picture of your creations and let us know how they turned out.
When it comes to holiday entertaining, hosting a houseful of people can be a daunting task. Follow our entertaining tips to keep your party full of fa-la-la-la-la and stress-free.
It sounds obvious, but planning ahead will make the day of your event so much easier. Plan your menu, shop in advance, and cook as much as you can the day before. If you’re having a sit down meal, set your table in advance. The day of your party will be far more enjoyable if you’re sipping a cocktail and talking with your guests instead of running around the kitchen at the last minute.
Curate a Festive Playlist
No party is complete without the right music to set the mood. Instead of setting iTunes to shuffle, plan out music that will match your mood. Dinner crowd? Think along the lines of holiday classics, like Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole. Know you’ll be dancing into the night? Look towards more upbeat favorites like Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You. Don’t fancy yourself a music connoisseur? Try holiday playlists already preset by Pandora or Spotify.
Have Food and Drink to Spare
There is nothing worse than running dry at a party, especially as the night kicks up, so when it comes to entertaining, its always better to overbuy. Keep in mind the size of your crowd, and remember that a few extra bottles of wine won’t go bad if you don’t use them.
Keep Your Menu Simple
In addition to planning ahead, keeping your menu simple will make the day of your event even more seamless. For a cocktail party, try to keep in mind items that require little cook time or assembly—think cheese and charcuterie and simple dip recipes. If you’re serving a full dinner, try to keep things limited to one main portion—ideally a protein like beef or chicken—and no more than two or three sides. Remember to keep your audience in mind, and serve crowd-pleasing sides like potatoes, and roast vegetables. And, when it comes to dessert, there’s nothing wrong with store-bought, premade cookie dough thrown into the oven at the last minute (Bonus: your house will smell amazing!)
Rearrange Your Furniture to Optimize Space
Specifically, if you’re living in a tight apartment, or a house with chopped up rooms, its important to make your space work for the event at hand. Keep seating open and side tables available for setting down drinks. Have an empty windowsill? Throw a few pillows in the sill to gain additional seating. Keep in mind how the room will feel when its full of people, and remove or relocate any furniture that might cause an obstacle for dancing or moving from room to room.
Our annual holiday party is coming up THIS THURSDAY in City View’s Lounge and Park View One’s Lobby. We’ll be playing music, having snacks and drinks, and activities for all residents and their guests. Make sure you stop by! It’s not too late to RSVP too – if you’d like to come, send email@example.com.
It’s officially time to get out the holiday decorations and gear up for the Holiday Season! This might be your favorite, or least favorite part of the holidays, but it is necessary to really get into the holiday spirit! And though Decorating in a small apartment can be challenging, there are easy ways to get it done. You may want to go all out for the holidays this years, but try using these tips to keep things simple yet full of holiday spirits!
Make Good Use of Your Kitchen Cabinets
The kitchen is a vital spot in any home, and though you may want to go crazy with your decorations, you need to use limited space in the kitchen so that there is room for the important things, like cooking. Take advantage of your kitchen cabinets and use them for decorations. You can hang mini wreaths or garland along your cabinets for the perfect touch, without interfering with your cooking space. You can also purchase holiday-themed items like bowls, mugs, or potholders.
Use Light as Much as Possible
Christmas lights are essential for decorating and they are perfect for lighting up small spaces, like your apartment. Adding a strand of lights on the walls or over top of some garland will add the perfect amount of seasonal comfort that your place needs. You can even purchase mini trees with lights and place them around your living space and find ways to incorporate lights throughout your entire apartment.
Add Inexpensive Centerpieces to Fill The Empty Spaces
Centerpieces are easy, cheap, and they look great! You don’t need anything big. Keep it small and simple. Try adding different holiday elements to mason jars. You can add pine leaves, cranberries, candles, and lights. Or you could do a jar full of small ornaments. All of these items are inexpensive and when the final product comes together, it will look amazing!
Put the Majority of Focus on Your Mantle
Because you live in a small space, finding the right decorations can be difficult and your ideas may seem cluttered, but that doesn’t mean finding ways to add beautiful decorations isn’t possible. Your mantle should be your main centerpiece. Really focus on making this the center of attention. Add garland, lights, mini trees, ornaments, and other small elements to really make the mantel pop. If you live in a small space, this is the perfect way to add the big decorations that may not fit into all of the small places.
Add Holiday Scents
The smell of December really brings everything together. Invest in some holiday scented candles or air fresheners. You can even add holiday-scented soaps. Having a good looking home is important, but having a good smelling home is really what matters. And why go through all of the decorating if your home doesn’t smell up to par? Adding these scents will give your place the perfect touch of holiday cheer to seal the deal.
Mulled wine has been a popular winter drink in Europe for many centuries. Mulled wine is usually some variety of red wine that is infused with spices and served warm. Over the years, people began adding other types of alcohol, like rum or vodka, to their drinks to give it a little extra kick.
If wine is not your drink of choice, there are many variations on mulled drinks. One of the most popular for this time of year is mulled cider. Similar to the wine, it is a hot drink seasoned with spices like cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg.
Although most of us, sadly, will not be spending our holiday abroad in Europe, that does not mean that we can’t embrace their culture and traditions. By making mulled wine and cider at home, we can still have a taste of what it would be like to spend the holiday surrounded by a snowy European country.
Mulled wine is pretty simple to make, even for the most amateur chef. It is also a fast drink to make, taking only about 10 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook. The ingredients you will need, as per the instructions of the Food Network, are as follows:
4 cups apple cider
1 bottle red wine
¼ cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
4 oranges, peeled, for garnish
In order to make this recipe, first combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan. Then, bring it to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. It is important to keep the heat very low so as not to alter the taste of the spices. Finally, pour the drink into mugs, add an orange peel to each one for garnish, serve, and enjoy!
Making mulled cider is just as easy and takes a comparable amount of time. For this drink, you will need:
2 quarts apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloved
1 orange, thinly sliced
Once you have your ingredients gathered and prepped, place them all in a large saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Again, this should be done on very low heat for the best results. After 5-10 minutes, divide the drink into individual mugs and serve. This recipe should make about 8 servings.
There are a variety of different recipes for slightly different variations on these drinks. If you do not like a few of these spices, try changing them for ones of your own preference. And, for some extra kick, try adding your favorite type of alcohol. If you try a recipe, be sure to comment below and let us know the results!
Tomorrow marks the start of December which means it is officially acceptable to decorate our homes for the holiday season! Whether you want to turn your place into the North Pole or just add a few festive items to spice up your apartment, we have gathered the latest trends to transform your home for the holidays. Blast your favorite holiday tunes, have a few friends over and get decorating!
Forget the traditional garland you’ve seen all over Christmas trees and mantles for decades, instead try using Eucalyptus in its place! This style gives your apartment a festive look that is chic instead of tacky.
This year, don’t waste hours trying to figure out which strand of lights still works. Swap your old lights out for these Marquee Letter Lights! Choose whatever words mean the most to you during the holiday season and decorate your place with them!
Small touches to your kitchen
You don’t want to overcrowd your home with a ton of decorations that will leave it feeling smaller. Decorate your kitchen in a few small ways that are really festive. Grab a few mason jars and stuff them with Candy Canes, marshmallows, and Hot Cocoa Powder. Not only are these adorable for decorations, you can eat them too!
Pinecones, Walnuts, and Candles
A few simple items go a long way when decorating for the holidays. Add a few pinecones and walnuts to a bowl or simply place them on your coffee table and you’re living area will be transformed. Add candles to the table to really amp the decoration up.
White Christmas Lights
The best part about white Christmas lights is their ability to be used all year long! During the holiday season, add a bunch of strands all over your living room for that cozy, winter feel. When the holidays are over, you can leave them up for great mood lighting the rest of the year.
Recently, metallic and golds have made a comeback! Spray paint your old bulbs with coppers, rose golds, and silvers to change the look of your tree! For the complete look, wrap the presents you will put under the tree in metallic paper to pull the whole tree together!
Sparse Christmas Tree
Living in an apartment, you don’t want a huge Christmas tree taking up half of your living room and leaving you feeling cramped. Opt for the newly popular “sparse tree” so you can get your tree fix while still having a spacious apartment.
Plaid and Buffalo Pillows
For a quick and easy way to transform your home, add plaid design and buffalo style pillows to your couches, chairs and beds. These patterns scream winter without being holiday overkill! You can even use these the entire winter season instead of just the holidays!
Try a few of these holiday trends around your home this season and your apartment will be in perfect condition for all your holiday visitors! Share pictures with us on Instagram of how you decorate your apartment for the holidays!
REMINDER to Park View and City View residents: Don’t forget to join your neighbors December 14th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in your ugly sweater! Enjoy Hot Apple Cider, Cookies, and a Chocolate Fountain with a chance to win awesome prizes! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The cold days are here to stay for a while and, luckily, there are plenty of food choices to keep us warm through the next few months. Winter food is all about comfort — the slow cooked casseroles, stews, and pies to keep us warm during the cold days. Treat yourself this winter to these delicious winter recipes that will keep you cozy and wanting more!
Sweet Potato Casserole
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes, ½ cup of milk, ¼ cup of packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 large eggs
½ cup of all-purpose flour, ½ cup of packed brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter, ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt, ¾ cups of chopped pecans
Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 and grease your casserole dish. Wisk all of your filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and then transfer the mixed ingredients into your casserole dish. For combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt in to a mixing bowl. Stir in the pecans and spread across the prepared mixture in the casserole dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden on top and set in the middle.
Ingredients: – 2 pounds of beef stew meat cut into cubes, ¼ cup of all- purpose flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 chopped onion, 1 ½ cups of beef broth, 3 diced potatoes, 4 sliced carrots, 1 chopped celery stock
Directions: Place meat into a slow cooker. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Pour the mixture on top of the meat and mix until all meat is coated in the flour mixture. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and then cover and let sit for 10 to 12 hours on a low heat setting. High heat setting: 4 to 6 hours.
Ingredients: 1 seeded spaghetti squash, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, 1½ cups of chopped tomatoes, ¾ cups of crumbled feta cheese, 3 tablespoons of sliced black olives, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil.
Directions: preheat oven to 350 and grease a baking sheet. Place the squash, with the cut sides facing down, on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Once ready, set the squash aside to cool down.
In a skillet, cook the onions in the oil until onion is tender. Add and cook the garlic until fragrant and add and cook tomatoes until warmed through. Use a spoon to scoop out the stringy pulp from the squash and mix with the cooked onion, garlic and tomatoes. Top with cheese and olives.
Macaroni and Cheese
Ingredients: 1-½ cups of elbow macaroni shells, 3 tablespoons of butter, 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of milk, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, 2 cups of shredded cheese.
Directions: preheat oven to 350 and cook pasta in a pot (add salt to pasta). Melt butter in a separate large skillet or pot. Add flour to the butter and stir until the mixture is lightly browned. Add milk and stir to remove any clumps of flour. Then add in the salt and pepper. Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 6 minutes or until it thickens. Stir in the cheese until melted and then take the sauce off of the heat. Stir the sauce and the cooked pasta and place in the oven until the top is golden brown. Add any garnish that you would like and serve.
The beauty of the Thanksgiving feast should never have to end, and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers from your turkey day meal, check out our favorite ways to reinvent and repurpose your favorite, classic dishes.
Give this homey classic a Thanksgiving-inspired upgrade and swap out your shredded chicken for turkey. Use your favorite vegetables and get cooking on this savory pie that is guaranteed to be a family favorite. Need to upgrade a little further? One user suggests swapping out the crust for cornbread—and we think she might just be a genius.
A twist on our favorite appetizer, the Thanksgiving in a Blanket brings a fresh twist to repurposing several leftovers at once. Simply fold up your favorites—whether that’s turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, or cranberry sauce—into crescent roll dough and bake as directed. If you’re smart, you’ll save just enough gravy for dipping.
You already loaded on the carbs on Thanksgiving day, so why stop now? This dip takes your leftover turkey and combines it with two kinds of cheese, garlic, onion, and mayo to produce the creamy dip of your dreams. The best part? This dip is baked in your very own bread bowl. We dare you to find a reason not to make this dip.
I know what you’re thinking: “Thanksgiving and Mexican food? I’m missing the connection.” Well, this recipe proves that the beauty of this tortilla sandwich knows no bounds. Top your turkey with shredded Swiss cheese and as much cranberry sauce as your heart desires, melt some butter, and get sizzling. Trust us on this one, it’s the perfect easy solution to all your post-Thanksgiving cravings.
It only seems natural that we devote one of everyone’s favorite dishes the attention it deserves with a reinvention of its own. Simply add sour cream, parmesan, and sharp cheddar to your left over taters, spoon into a cupcake pan, and let your oven do the rest. These cheesy beauties are as simple as they are delicious, and easily customizable. Get adventurous and add bacon, turkey, or whatever your heart desires—this is one risk you won’t regret it.
Its hard to let go of our favorite day of feasting, but hold onto your leftovers and keep these recipes close at hand to make your day after Thanksgiving blues a little bit more bearable. And, while you’re at it, stay in your PJ’s and cue up the Netflix, we wont judge—in fact, we encourage it.
Thanksgiving Day is always much anticipated. The golden-brown turkey, the sweet pumpkin pie, and the promise of laughter with family and friends is enchanting. When you host Thanksgiving dinner, however, the anticipation of fun can quickly turn to stress.
There is no question that hosting a dinner is a lot of work. Luckily, however there are a few things you can do to ensure a stress-free day. Whether this is the first Thanksgiving dinner you’re hosting or you’re a seasoned veteran, there are some tips that can make your day less stressful.
One of the most important things you can do to help alleviate stress is to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Be sure to clean your house and set the table a day or so in advance. This will shorten your to-do list the day of Thanksgiving. You can also complete pre-cooking tasks, such as peeling vegetables or making a pie crust, the night before. Again, this gives you one less thing to do the day of Thanksgiving.
Another thing you can do to lessen your workload is request that your guests each bring a dish. This can be anything from a bottle of wine to a bowl of mashed potatoes. They will feel grateful that they are able to contribute to the day and you will have one less dish to worry about. This is a great way to get a few meal items out of the way.
Although it can be tempting to try every new recipe you see because they all look so good, make an effort to limit yourself. Keeping a simpler menu of classic foods is a great way to cut down on stress because you won’t be trying to prepare ten dishes simultaneously. There will be plenty of opportunity to try cooking new dishes in the future – they don’t all need to be made on Thanksgiving!
The day of Thanksgiving, be sure to have appetizers available for when your guests arrive. The platter can be as simple as a cheese plate someone else brought, but its presence will prevent your guests from becoming ravenous before dinner is ready. That way, if dinner is running late, your guests will have something to occupy their time, (and stomachs), until everything finishes cooking.
Finally, the most important thing you can do to mediate your stress level is to remember the meaning of Thanksgiving. It was a holiday created to spend time with friends and family and give thanks for all the great things in life. It is your guests and the atmosphere that will be remembered even more than the food. If the mashed potatoes you cooked didn’t turn out quite right, that will not ruin the great dinner you hosted.
So, remember to relax and enjoy the day even if you are responsible for the meal. And, if you have hosted a Thanksgiving meal before and have a trick that works particularly well for you, be sure to leave it in the comments below!
- How to Enjoy the Holidays
- Unique Gift Ideas
- Holiday Cookie Recipes
- Tips for Holiday Entertaining
- How to Decorate Small for the Holidays
- Homemade Mulled Wine and Cider
- Holiday Apartment Décor
- Winter Recipes to Warm Your Soul
- 5 Recipes to Reinvent Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
- Your Stress-Free Thanksgiving