Everybody knows one—the last-minute holiday shopper. Whether it’s due to a hectic work schedule, trying to fit in year-end projects around the house, or just because it completely slipped their mind, there’s always someone who waits until the final days before the holidays to get their loved ones’ presents.
But have no fear—Michelle is here! (Embrace the silliness. It’s the holidays!) I’ve tapped in to my creative thinking and came up with a list of the best last-minute holiday gift ideas.
Books. Okay, let’s get this out there, because I wouldn’t be a good author if I didn’t shamelessly self-promote! My book Pinnacle Lust is always a great gift (not to mention a steamy read). For you last-minuters, buying Pinnacle Lust on online is an instant gift. Voilà! One click and your loved ones are happy—and happily reading.
Something luxurious. For me, winter equals hibernation. When my husband bought me a cashmere scarf last year (I admit, it took a lot of hinting), I put that thing on and didn’t take it off until March. This is even more special if it is something your loved one wouldn’t buy for him or herself. Scarves, sweaters, anything that wraps your loved one in warmth and comfort will be a particularly coveted gift.
Gift cards. Ahh, the basic go-to gift. While I’m not particularly fond of the gift card (to me, it screams impersonal), it has its perks. Especially for the difficult to shop for person on your list. The one who has everything and is impossible to please. You’re getting them a gift they’re sure to appreciate—who doesn’t love credit to a store they love? For girls, you can’t go wrong with a gift card to Sephora; for men, Home Depot usually does the trick (what husband doesn’t have a project to work on around the house?).
Pajamas. Maybe this only seems like a great gift idea to me because, like I said, winter equals hibernation. And don’t forget I’m a writer—on some days PJs are my outfit. Holiday-specific PJs are the perfect nostalgic gift (remember being a kid and believing in the magic of the season?). You can add on to this present by giving the entire package: pajamas, slippers, hot chocolate mix, and fuzzy socks. Yes. When it comes to PJs I’m a kid at heart.
Jar of Stuff. Yep, you read that right. This present crosses into the DIY realm: All you need is a mason jar, then similar things: For girls, you can do a “manicure in a jar”—essentially polish, a file, toe separators, cotton balls, and a pumice stone, and top it off with a decorative ribbon. Choose items that are easy to find during a last-minute Walmart trip. Hot chocolate mix (with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and candy canes), coffee beans, brownie or cookie mix, or anything else that your loved ones will enjoy (think a craft jar with glue, sequins, and yarn, a “movie night” jar with candy and popcorn kernels…the list goes on!).
There you have it—my own spin on the last-minute list for holiday presents—all you last-minuters are out of excuses.
Now, get shopping!
Ho, Ho, Ho,
It was only a few weeks ago that I was pumpkined out and wrote a whole blog about it.
I have to get over it!
Dr. Neal Barnard’s blog shook me up as he said: “For breast cancer, we have learned a lot about the causes. But if we don’t put knowledge to work—if instead we slip on our pink socks, zip up our pink jackets, and look at cancer through our pink-colored glasses—we make a mockery of the lifesaving findings that were painstakingly elucidated.”
Orange is the new Pink. Studies show women who consume the most carotenoid-rich food reduce their risk of breast cancer by about 19 %.
Why waste time? I better rush to the grocery store and load my cart with everything that is high in beta-carotene.
I have already made my list: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe, red peppers, grapefruit, mango, dried apricots, tomatoes and of course pumpkin.
And when I get back from the store, I’ll grab my apron and get started on my gourmet butternut squash holiday soup. At best this soup could save your life—at worst it is absolutely delicious. But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself.
2 medium butternut squash, about 4 lb, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
15-20 whole garlic cloves
6 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup water
2 leeks (the whites and about an inch of the tender greens) cleaned and finely chopped
5 cups water
2 Knorr chicken or vegetable low sodium bouillon cubes
8 oz. heavy whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped chives
Preheated the oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a roasting pan, combine the squash and garlic cloves. Drizzle with 3 tbsp. of the olive oil and toss until well coated. Pour in the water and roast 50-60 minutes, until the squash and the garlic are soft and golden. Stir occasionally. If squash begins to scorch add a bit more water.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 3 tbsp. olive oil. Add the leek and sauté until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Set aside until roasted squash and garlic are ready.
Add the roasted squash and garlic to the pot with the leek. Add the water and the Knorr bullion cubes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool—about an hour.
Using a blender and working in batches, blend the cooled mixture about a minute, until very smooth.
Transfer blended mixture back to the saucepan. Over medium heat, add whipping cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Reheat when ready to serve. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped chives. Serve immediately.
This dish is rich in beta-carotene and can be prepared a day in advance.
I doubt this blog is for you.
It is not a fat free or gluten free blog, and it certainly isn’t low carb. It’s definitely not for those who follow a vegan diet. And to top it off, it’s about Chanukah food.
Nothing in this blog could possibly promote health or contribute to your general knowledge of Judaism. It will only boost your spirits and sizzle your holiday gala.
We can’t be perfect all the time. Sometimes we give into our cravings and live for the moment.
There are six nights left to celebrate Chanukah.
Pick one night, push all thoughts of healthy eating aside and try delicious latkes. Forget about the calories. Enjoy the taste of Chanukah and indulge.
Who doesn’t know how to make latkes? It takes only a few ingredients: shredded potatoes, grated onions, eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
Of course, I trust you will be disciplined enough to correct this naughty treat. The following day, drink plenty of water, cut a few calories from your diet and walk an extra 30 minutes—voilà, latkes’ calories gone, as if they’d never crossed your lips.
Go ahead and brighten your holiday.
Happy Chanukah to you and yours!
Chanukah is upon us. I am confident that you’ve heard about this Jewish holiday—the eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek armies of Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. If you are not familiar with its meaning, I trust that you recognize this holiday by its lights and candles.
Have you ever wondered about the nine-branched candelabra often called the menorah? Is menorah even the right word? Let’s explore the topic.
The menorah is described in the book of Exodus as the seven-branched lampstand made of pure gold. It symbolizes the seven days of creation, with the center light representing the Sabbath. According to the bible, the lamps were lit daily with fresh olive oil and burned from evening until morning. Rabbinic Judaism prohibits the use of the menorah outside the Temple.
This symbol of the menorah has become the emblem of the coat of arms of the modern state of Israel.
Chanukah is a holiday which reflects the Jewish valor of refusing to submit to the religious demands of an empire practicing idolatry—a time when Jews struggled against assimilation and loss of Jewish identity. It's a holiday when Jews are reminded to keep the flame of Jewish religion alive.
We light the candles for eight days in memory of the one-day oil supply that miraculously lasted eight days. Traditionally, we use an additional candlestick as the attendant also known as the servant. Thus, the Chanukah candelabrum has nine branches.
Since the menorah has only seven branches and it is not supposed to be used outside of the Temple, calling the Chanukah nine-branched candelabra a menorah is a mistake, and perhaps even devalues the merit of the message from the historical event.
While there is no reference to the structure of the candelabra of Chanukah it generally resembles the structure of the menorah, with the attendant in the middle and four branches to each side.
Perhaps the modern Hebrew name for the nine-branched candelabra, Chanukiah, should be internationally adopted—or we could even call it a Chanukah Candelabra. But it should not be referred to as a menorah.
Let’s follow our heroes and preserve the flame of Jewish religion by lighting the Chanukah candles in a Chanukiah or in a Chanukah Candelabra this year, keeping the menorah in the Temple and the Chanukah candelabra in our homes.
It’s not only an author who needs to use words correctly—it’s all of us.
Don’t say Merry Chanukah, say Happy Chanukah