Losing that Lingering Winter Cough

Feeling better when the cough is stacked against you

Get rid of a dry, persistent, lingering cough!The aggravating, unrelenting common cold can be caused by a variety of viruses and can occur without warning anytime of the year. The onset and spread of the viral illness is more prevalent in the winter months because of the multitude of viruses that are known to thrive in the freezing weather. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of viruses believed to be responsible for the existence and yearly pandemic of the common cold. The symptoms include sore throat, runny nose or sinus congestion, a productive or nonproductive cough, and fatigue. A cold and its associated symptoms will usually last 7 -10 days, sometimes with a few lingering symptoms for another week. A cough can last longer, becoming persistent and resistant to the traditional treatments, leaving you feeling almost hopeless in your coughing nightmare.

A cough that brings up mucus is considered productive and shouldn’t be treated with medicine containing a cough suppressant. It is always best to see your primary physician when symptoms persist longer than 21 days. A cough that is dry and causes painful breathing is considered non-productive and should be evaluated by a medical professional. The doctor may suggest or prescribe from a slew of possible medications and treatments for the relentless cough, depending on the suspected cause. Follow all instructions to the letter and take any and all medication he or she prescribes, even if your symptoms subside, to prevent the reccurrence of the cough and cold. The only good news is that, since antibiotics won’t help the cold virus, they aren’t usually prescribed. Since 95% of all colds are viral in nature, the best your doctor can do is to treat the symptoms that are making you miserable.

You can try a few things to relieve the cough and ease the cold at home before it becomes a costly trip to the doctor’s office. Many home remedies are popular and offer inexpensive, safe, natural treatments for the symptoms of the common cough and cold. First and foremost, if you smoke, quit! That one is a no-brainer. If you continue to smoke after the onset of a persistent cough, you will have more problems to look forward in the future than the aggravation of a cough. A multitude of programs and aids can help you stop smoking. Next, avoid the possible causes of the cough, such as smog and air pollution. These irritants exist everywhere and avoiding them is seemingly impossible, so try to limit exposure to these irritants. Also, avoid pet dander, air fresheners, household cleaners, and pollen in flowers and on trees. Try to follow a healthy diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, and skim or fat free dairy products. Avoid the foods that are high in trans-fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.

Drinking warm tea with honey will help break up the mucus of a productive cough and will ease the pain of a sore throat. Also, stay hydrated with water and juices containing high Vitamin C content. Certain foods like garlic, peppermint, onion, and basil make great vapor breathing decongestants. Honey and ginger seem to be a very effective natural cough suppressant. Many other natural ingredients have shown positive effects on the symptoms of the common cold as well as the persistent cough. Experts say that this year’s cold and flu season will be especially nasty. Take the time now to be prepared and the cough won’t be stacked against you.



DIY Flavored Coffee Drinks

Coffee cupIf you love fancy coffee drinks more than your wallet can allow, consider trying your own hand at a beverage masterpiece. The following recipes are fairly simple and don’t require a limitless budget.

I received samples of Eight O’Clock Coffee for the purpose of this article. Let these recipes inspire you to create new recipes. Play around with the ingredients and swap out extracts and candies with other flavors.

If you’re picky about the sweetness of your coffee, making it yourself alleviates any issues with your drink being too sweet or too bitter. Alter the amounts to your taste buds to find the perfect balance. Maybe you’ll find your new favorite drink!

Eight O’Clock Coffee is available in bags, as well as in K cups designed fro Keurig coffee machines. These recipes are suited for a whole pot of coffee or just a cup. Perfect for however you make your coffee!

Caramel Almond Coffee Drink

½ tsp. almond extract per 6 oz. cup
1 rounded Tbsp. ground Eight O’Clock Original or 100% Colombian Coffee per 6 oz. cup
1 Tbsp. caramel syrup per 6 oz. cup
Cream or milk optional

Add almond extract to the bottom of the pot, ½ tsp. for each 6 oz. cup you’ll be brewing. Brew as you normally would. Stir caramel syrup into each cup.

For an individual cup:
Use 1 drop of almond extract. Add the extract and the caramel syrup to the bottom of your cup and stir.

Coconut Coffee

½ tsp. coconut extract per 6 oz. cup
1 rounded Tbsp. ground Eight O’Clock Original or 100% Colombian Coffee per 6 oz. cup
Cream, milk and/or sugar optional

Add coconut extract to the bottom of the pot. Brew as you normally would and pour into a cup.

For an individual cup:
Use 1 drop of coconut extract. Add the extract to the bottom of your cup and stir.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coffee

2 squares of dark and raspberry chocolate squares
1 drop of orange flavored extract
1 rounded Tbsp. ground Eight O’Clock Original Coffee per 6 oz. cup
Cream or milk optional

Put the chocolate squares and extract in the bottom of each cup. Brew a pot as you normally would and pour into cups. Stir for about a minute, or until the candy has dissolved.

For more recipes click through…

Choosing a Christmas Tree – Apartment Size Possibilities

Apartment size Christmas TreeApartments shouldn’t be left out when you’re in the mood for decorating this time of the year. Sure it may be small, but as long as you have the motivation, you can make it look the part. The holidays are near, so why not take the time to bring something festive and fun home with you? And with this, I mean finding the perfect little Christmas tree for your apartment. Aside from holiday decorations for apartments, such as candles and wreaths, apartment size Christmas trees are a must.

Green or White?

There are two classic colors for Christmas trees— green and white. Get a mini tree in a medium size if you have the floor space so that you can set the gifts under the tree. No matter which apartment sized tree you choose, you will always have to buy ornaments for them. Balls, angels, stars, and candy canes are just a few things you can put on you tree. Ornaments stand out on white trees while the focus is on the presents for green ones.

Go Small

Smaller trees are adorable without even trying. Take your cue from tabletop trees that range from a foot to two feet tall. This works very well with very small apartments and studio type condominiums. Small trees are ideal if you lack the floor space. If you’re up for something funky, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree would be a fun variation. It comes with a little red ball and a smooth, light blue blanket— just like the one in the comic!

Be Creative

It’s not difficult to work with the things around your living space. Do you have plenty of books lying around? How about boxes? Some old Christmas cards, perhaps? Using your creativity here is what’s going to make it so much fun. Making your own Christmas tree gives you room to personalize your living space and make Christmas more “you.”

Just because you live in a small flat doesn’t mean you can’t have the same elegance of decoration as a grand manor. In fact, you can play up your décor as much as you wish. Here’s a tip, though: If you want more decorations, keep them small. If you’re fine with just a few pieces, larger ones will do. Do not put up too many large decorations because they will overwhelm your living space.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, cheerful, and decorative with your home. No matter how small it is, it deserves the same amount of details as you would a spacious home.


Gift Ideas

Need some new ideas for presents this year? It’s not that you don’t know the person well, it just might be that you’ve already given them all the obvious presents already. Sometimes we need a little help in that department. Take a break and relax and read this post about a few different gift ideas to get the wheels turning.

For the Wine and Cocktail Lover

For a classic (and most often appreciated) gift, give a bottle of wine. No need to wrap, simply put a bow or wrap a ribbon on top of the bottle. Some companies have bottle gift bags or find or create your own bottle cover to add some decoration to the gift. The Company Store offers very classy attire for your bottles in form of a hat and tie, a tux, and a fancy red dress complete with fur shawl and pearl necklace.

If you’re looking for something a bit more personalized, consider giving a festive glass by Designs by Lolita to your friends and loved ones this year. I received a Christmas wine glass decked all out in red and green, but many other designs are available for birthdays, girls’ night, weddings, and more! Designs by Lolita offers a variety of glasses to fit the season as well as the recipient’s personality. These handpainted glasses add flair to cocktails at home.

In addition to their creative styles, each piece by Designs by Lolita has a drink recipe on the bottom of the glass. These unique stemware items offer a way to creatively celebrate every life event and all the special people you have in your life! I found these in my local Hallmark store, along with some other cute cocktail accessories- grab a few and some booze and head on over to the holiday parties!

For the Music Lover

You might think that your music aficionado friend has all the headphones, earbuds, and music accessories that he or she could ever want. Personally I don’t think that’s the case- I don’t think I could ever have too many earbuds.

Earbuds are quite a necessity to have at my side at any given time. I probably spend about 75% of my waking hours either listening to my favorite jams or humming along to whatever earworm I’ve got stuck in my head. I’ve started keeping a spare pair in my go-to bag so that I always have one on hand.

House of Marley offers premium quality headphones made from recycled and reclaimed materials. These earth friendly products probably already make you feel good about your investment and the environment, but the company gives five percent of annual profits towards 1Love.org, which benefits youth, planet, and peace.

Misplaced or tangled earbuds are the worst! Give a cute earbud case to lengthen the life of earbuds by keeping them safe from the terrors of being lost in a purse or backpack! For your fashionista/musician girlfriends, Vera Bradley offers trendy patterned organizers and cases for your MP3 player and your earbuds.

For friends or family members who may not need a case, but just something to prevent tangles, Mochi Things offers a range of simple to very kawaii organizers.

For the Makeup Guru

Everyone knows a girl or two who always looks her best no matter the occasion. She perfects every new beauty trend, while you’re still trying to master eyeliner. Help her continue looking great with a few of these ideas.

Tiny make-up samplers are perfect stocking stuffers for gals. They’re tiny, chic, and perfect for girls who like to keep their makeup on them at all times. Items from Avon’s Merry Mini GLIMMERSTICKS Eyeliner SetParty Polish Mini Set, and Be Jeweled Mini Lipgloss Set can fit snuggly in a pocket of a purse or backpack; making sure that looks can be created or touched up at any time.

These kits let someone sample a variety of an item, without committing to a full size product. Get sparkling lips with the five lipglosses, bold eyes with the four self-sharpening eyeliners, or a quick polished metallic set of nails. All priced under $10.

Mally Beauty offers a variety of makeup kits for purchase if you just can’t decide on which one item to get (I know, it’s a hard decision!). If you need some help, a shadow kit like the Citychick smokey eye kit offers a base and three shadows plus an eyeliner providing every gal with what she needs to create this look.

Q-Tips Precision Tips may seem just like a cheap last minute gift, but these guys are very useful! They are ideal for cleaning up after a manicure. Use them for precise makeup application to apply concealer or clean up eyeliner. The 100% cotton tips are always clean and ready for any part of your beauty routine.

If you fear this girl has every beauty item known to mankind and more, find a cute cosmetic bag or two. Bags are great to store and help tote makeup products around. They prevent these precious items from getting lost in bags, purses, or carry ons.

For the Makeup Guru– On the Run

Girls on the run need products to keep up with their pace. Twenty-four hour formulas offer long-lasting wear with no need to take time out of a busy schedule to reapply or keep products in purses.

Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On eye pencils are available in many color shades. They’ll withstand the elements with a waterproof formula that goes on creamy, but dries to be resilient to smudges. Users also can enjoy the moisturizing benefits these pencils have to offer. This liner provides a very bold look for eyes that no one can miss.

Mally Beauty is another great brand with long lasting wear that needs no touching up. Mally’s Evercolor Ultimate and Evercolor Starlight eyeliners are the perfect size to fit in stockings or small gift bags. These liners are both waterproof and are available in a variety of colors. Gift one, a trio, or a set of ten liners!

For the Beauty Queen

The Rapunzels of the world don’t get their precious locks by doing nothing about it all day; they need products just as much as (or maybe more than) any other girl!

No matter what type of hair this girl has, Wella Velvet Amplifier will help her with all her hair needs. This item will aid in styling any look while making it manageable for any which way it is being treated. Style primers like these are the first step in creating the perfect coif.

TIGI is a renowned hair care brand that offers a wide selection of nearly every hair product one could ever wish to own. If you know of someone looking for a specific item, I highly suggest checking this brand out and gifting her with some fun and high quality products.

Disclaimer: Many of these items I received for review, however any opinions mentioned above are genuine.


Pregnancy Testing for Gestational Diabetes

DoctorI recently welcomed a daughter and while I was pregnant, I worried a little bit about the glucose test for gestational diabetes. I was a little bit nervous about getting tested for diabetes while pregnant. I worried that I might have a false positive, or that the glucose test would make me feel sick, or that the sugary drink would be disgusting. I am glad to share my pregnancy diabetes experience for anyone else who is feeling this way.

Leading up to the test, I ate a half an English muffin with cream cheese, a fried egg, and some breakfast meat, I can’t remember what – maybe ham or Canadian bacon. I am pretty sure I only drank water. I got to the appointment and had the initial blood work done, and it was pretty uneventful. I didn’t look. Then I had to drink this juice bottle that honestly didn’t taste much different than if you added a bunch of extra sugar in a batch of KoolAid.

During the waiting period, I asked if I could step outside for some fresh air. I made a few phone calls and paced around the parking lot. I don’t know if this impacted my results, but it made me feel better. The office was very stuffy and I was dressed too warm for that. They say if you puke, you have to do it all over again, so I didn’t want to chance that!

Honestly, everything went fine for me with my pregnancy, including that test. I got my results back and I passed with flying colors. A (relatively) healthy diet and exercise seemed to do the trick for me. Although, I did eat my fair share of donuts and chocolate chip muffins while pregnant. Yum!

Diabetes isn’t something to mess around with, especially when you are pregnant. This disease often causes a number of symptoms like excessive thirst and frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, changes in vision, increased tiredness, extremely dry skin, to name a few. In pregnancy, you may already be experiencing frequent urination, increased tiredness, and other symptoms, which is why it is a great idea to have this gestational diabetes test done. If you experience these or any other unusual symptoms, you should be sure to make a doctor’s appointment so you can get yourself checked for diabetes and other serious conditions.

Do you have any experiences to share in being tested for gestational diabetes? Did you pass or fail? Did anyone have to go back for the three-hour test? Please share your experiences and memories in our comments below.


Six Holiday Traditions to Try with Your Family

Christmas cookiesIt’s hard to believe Christmas is almost here. So many things on our to-do lists remind us daily that we’ve got a lot to do before the holiday arrives, from shopping and wrapping to baking, sending out Christmas cards, replying to holiday party invites, setting up the Christmas tree, decorating, and more. If you’ve already done some or all of this, you are definitely ahead of the game.

Despite all these holiday “chores,” it can be fun to have a few family traditions when it comes to the holidays. You and your loved ones can find a great number of holiday traditions to enjoy, with many that don’t cost much at all to do. Consider these suggestions for six holiday traditions to try with your family or significant other this year.

1. Bake Christmas cookies together.

2. Drive around to look at the holiday lights in your neighborhood.

3. Take a family photo for your holiday card.

4. Make a handmade Christmas ornament. (When you have a young baby, consider making a handprint or footprint ornament!)

5. Get your kids’ or pets’ picture with Santa Claus.

6. Spend Christmas morning at your own home so your kids can enjoy the magic of Christmas.

Christmas tree

Depending on your family’s favorite things and the neat holiday attractions near your home, you might find other holiday traditions to add to this list. You may also wish to set out cookies and milk for Santa with your kids after hanging your stockings by the fireplace with care. You might also want to visit a special holiday attraction if you live near such a thing, or simply enjoy Christmas breakfast as a family every year.

If you plan to split up the holiday with your family and your in-laws, you might want to factor in traditions for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or the weekend before or the weekend after Christmas. Talk with your spouse or significant other about ideas you might have for a fun holiday tradition to try.

What other ideas do you have for a holiday tradition, or what traditions do you and your family enjoy year after year? Please share them in our comments below.


Tips on Surviving a Teething Baby

Baby smileJust when you think you’ve finally got this “being a parent” thing down, your baby throws you a curveball. She’s no longer sleeping through the night. She wakes you up three, four, five times, screaming, crying, just wanting to be held. You can tell something’s wrong but she isn’t able to tell you what. You check for a tooth. Again. Three, four, and five times a day. Still nothing. You see if she’s hungry, check her diaper. Nothing. It’s got to be the teeth. Sound familiar? I am going through it, too.

Our daughter is a very happy baby, at least most of the time. She’s been sleeping through the night since she was two and a half months old, what a blessing. Over the past week, she’s decided to stop sleeping through the night and wakes up crying or screaming as if in pain. As soon as we pick her up, she seems to go back to sleep, but once she feels us set her back down, all bets are off.

So how do you deal with a teething baby? We’ve been to the doctor and back and received a few recommendations on teething remedies. If your baby is teething too, try chilled teethers or water-filled teethers that you can put in the refrigerator to get nice and cool. You can hold them for her to help your baby learn to chew on them for some numbing relief. The pediatric nurse also said freezing a washcloth and letting the little ones chew on that can help to ease the discomfort of their teething gums.

Another mom I met a few months ago preferred natural teething remedies and had purchased a Baltic amber teething necklace for her daughter. She sang its praises, not truly sure why it worked, but sure that it did, in fact, ease her daughter’s teething pain. Some other teething baby remedies may include massaging the infant’s gums with your finger, or a product called the “Molar Muncher” for older babies and toddlers getting their back teeth.

Baby boy napping

Baby teething toys may be helpful in soothing and distracting from the sore gums. One thing to be wary of is anything medicated that you would topically apply to your baby ’s gums. I recently read a story about Baby Oragel where the numbing effect actually caused the infant to stop breathing for a short while, his face blue and all. It’s a terrifying thought, so be sure to check with your child’s doctor to be on the safe side.

If you start to notice the signs of a teething infant, be sure to speak with your pediatrician for advice on your son’s or daughter’s own teething needs. The good news is I’ve heard the first tooth is the worst. We are still waiting on our little girl to cut the first one, so we’ll believe it when we see it. Best of luck to all other moms and dads in getting through this trying phase!


Top 10 Christmas Activities to Enjoy with Your Family (Without Snow)

The winter season typically brings cold weather and shorter days with daylight transitioning into nighttime earlier than usual. Still, the wintertime invites us to enjoy a number of fun family activities despite the cold. Some snow activities may be fun if you already have the weather for it, but if you are still waiting for that great snowfall, consider these fun and festive winter activities for families.

Remember, family activities don’t have to cost a lot of money. You can find a number of lower budget plans or even free ideas for your family to enjoy this winter. Here are our top 10 winter activities for families:

1. Skating – Whether you choose an ice rink with public skate or a completely frozen pond to play a little family friendly game of ice hockey, ice skating is a fantastic family activity you can enjoy year after year.

2. Checking out the Christmas Lights – Take a drive or a short stroll through your neighborhood to look at the holiday displays around your town. Have each person pick a favorite house.

3. Holiday shopping – Go out shopping as a family to ensure everyone marks off their Christmas lists. Split up in a store or two if you need to shop for someone in your family without them seeing their presents.

4. Christmas cookie bake-off – No holiday tradition tastes as good as making homemade Christmas cookies as a family.

5. Get a family portrait – It may seem like a hassle, but years from now you will cherish the family holiday portraits you’ve gotten over the years.

6. Attend a holiday festival – Look at the local paper or online resources to find holiday festivals near you or take a little drive to somewhere you used to go as a child. As one example, Hershey Park is an amusement park in Pennsylvania that puts on a great holiday display called “Candy Lane” during the holiday season.

7. Ride the Christmas Train – Some towns have a holiday train ride, or Santa train, where you can bring your children for a fun experience they will remember for a lifetime.

8. Write a letter to Santa – Have your kids write letters to Santa and help them mail them to the North Pole. Do this far enough in advance that they may get a response in time for Christmas! Here are some ideas to get you started.

9. Make your own Christmas ornaments – You can make handprint and footprint ornaments with your little ones, or have older children paint Christmas balls or craft other decorations. These will make lovely gifts for family and friends!

10. Play Christmas music, decorate the tree, drink hot chocolate, and eat cookies – Does it get any better than this? You might also want to consider picking out a Christmas tree if your family opts for a live tree each year. You can have so much fun as a family, setting up the tree, decorating, and enjoying a festive snack.

Our minds are still swirling with other activities to enjoy as a family this holiday season. You can make handmade cards with the kids, or host a holiday party, visit lonely neighbors or elderly folks, or donate food to food pantries or gifts to Toys for Tots or other similar programs. Teaching your children while they are young, that Christmas is also a season of giving, can go a long way toward their future goodhearted efforts this time of year.

What other ideas do you have as far as family activities to enjoy in the winter? Please leave your favorite suggestions in our comments below. Happy Holidays!


Healthy Flavored Waters: Reviews of ACTIVIATE AND HINT brands

Activate Vitamin WaterWater is an essential part of every health and beauty routine. I always try to keep a full water bottle with me at all times to stay hydrated. Not only is water great for general health, but it can have incredible results for your skin.

Drinking flavorless water day in and day out can become dull. Juices and even some flavored waters often contain a lot of calories, sugar, and other ingredients that can counter the benefits of water. ACTIVATE and Hint waters are two excellent ways to drink water and still experience a wealth of health benefits.

The great thing about these drinks is the opportunity to branch out from your tap or filtered water without going in a potentially unhealthy direction. If you are trying to meet the suggested 8 glasses of water a day, it’s easy to get bored or unmotivated to drink the same bland beverage each day when there are so many potential selections available to you. These brands offer a variety in your beverage choices while counting towards that daily water count.

I received several bottles of ACTIVATE energy water to sample and review. These water drinks are sugar and calorie free in addition to containing a number of vitamins and nutrients. Vitamins can degrade/deteriorate sitting in water, so ACTIVATE keeps them stored in the cap instead of the water.

ACTIVATE vitamin water

It may sound silly, but it’s fun to ‘activate’ the vitamins by twisting the cap and releasing them into the water. After you twist the vitamin cap open, shake the bottle and mix the vitamins into the water.  ACTIVATE also doubles as an easy cocktail mixer that aids in reducing calories in your drinks. If you’re interested in cutting calories when it comes to alcohol, check out my article about low-cal cocktails!

HINT water also features all natural essence water with no calories, sugars, artificial flavors or preservatives. This beverage is closer to tasting like water than ACTIVATE. I’ve tried to create my own fruit or vegetable infused beverages this past summer and learned it’s a bit harder than it looks. This brand has mastered the art of blending subtle tastes of fruit with water into delicious beverages.

HINT is available in ten unique flavors: Watermelon, Blackberry, Pomegranate-Tangerine, Strawberry-Kiwi, Raspberry-Lime, Mango-Grapefruit, Lime, Pear, Honeydew-Hibiscus and Cucumber. I’ve received several of these flavors and am quite fond of the Raspberry-Lime.

HINT waters

HINT even offers the first unsweetened sparkling essence water in stores! You can find HINT Fizz in Blackberry, Watermelon, Strawberry-Kiwi, and Peach. I’m a huge fan of seltzers and mineral waters so the next time I see these in a store I’m gonna snatch up a few to try out for myself! Sparkling water is a much better option than most other fizzy drinks like soda, so when I’m craving a carbonated drink, I’d much rather go for something healthy.

What are some creative ways you’ve found to add more water into your diet?


Low-Cal Cocktails

Lo-cal cocktail options!It might sound a bit ironic to call a cocktail healthy, but when certain drinks can pack a nearly 600-calorie punch, you might want to be mindful of low-calorie options. Alcoholic drinks can come with a lot of calories, especially when they are being mixed with other ingredients. What’s the point of a diet if you are going to blow it when you choose your booze?

Now you can have your cocktail and drink it too! Enjoy these low calorie alternatives while enjoying flavor without a ridiculous amount of sugars and unwanted calories!

La Pinta- pomegranate Tequila

I was super-incredibly-lucky to receive La Pinta, a premium pomegranate-flavored tequila, to review. Sorry for the overuse of adjectives, but it’s seriously that good. I shared it with a friend and she agreed too! La Pinta is sweet enough by itself, but also serves well in cocktails.

It’s almost silly to consider other drinks when there’s delicious healthy alternatives. There are a surprising number of brands and recipes striving to offer low-calorie options of alcoholic drinks. La Pinta is a product I highly suggest to any fans of fruit-infused spirits.

La Pinta d’lite

2.5 oz. La Pinta

2 oz. club soda or sparkling water

Approximate Calories: 160

I’ve also received samples of ACTIVATE water, which doubles as a cocktail mixer. These vitamin waters come in colorful and innovative packaging that protects your vitamins in the cap until you are ready to release them into the water and enjoy your beverage. For more info about the product, check out my review of healthy flavored waters. For additional cocktail recipes using ACTIVATE and their reviews, visit my article on Halloween Cocktails.

Exotic Berry Martini

3 oz. Exotic Berry ACTIVATE

1 oz. Premium Vodka

Squeeze fresh lime juice over drink. Garnish with fresh berries.

ACTIVATE Vitamin Water

Bubbly Blueberry POMtini

3 oz. Blueberry Pomegranate ACTIVATE

1 oz. Premium Vodka Top with champagne.

Voli Vodka

Squeeze fresh lime juice over drink. Garnish with fresh berries.


Certain brands feature products that are ideal for low calorie drinks. One of these brands is co-owned by singer-songwriter Stacy Ann Ferguson, better known as Fergie. For more information about Voli Light Vodkas, visit their website.

Last year I received Voli Light Vodka to review and am a big fan of it. Voli’s a great tasting vodka made from natural ingredients, and this spirit has about 25-40 percent fewer calories than other leading brands!

Skinny Citrus Crush Cocktail Recipe

For seasonal recipes and LLB reviews that feature Voli cocktails, visit our articles on St. Valentine’s Cocktails and St. Patty’s Cocktails.

Skinny Citrus Crush

1 1/2 oz Voli Lyte (works with Voli Lemon too)

1/2 oz Agave Nectar 2 Lemon wedges

1 Lime wedge Top with soda water

Squeeze lemons and lime and drop in a glass. Add Voli Lyte, Agave and ice. Shake and top with soda water.

Approximate Calories: 105 (110 with Voli Lemon)

Volitio cocktail recipeVolito

1 1/2 oz LYTE or Lemon

1/2 fresh lime

8 mint leaves

1 packet sweetener

Club soda Muddle lime, mint and sweetener. Add Voli, light shake and pour all ingredients in a glass. Top with club soda. Serve in a highball glass. Garnish with mint sprig.

You can even add fruits to this like blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, red berries, and mango.

Approximate Calories: 85

Blushing Berry Cocktail RecipeBlushing Berry

1 1/2 oz Raspberry Cocoa

1/2 oz Raspberry liqueur

Splash of diet cranberry juice

Served over ice and garnish with a raspberry and lime twist.

Approximate Calories: 130

Another popular low-cal brand is Skinnygirl created by Bethenny Frankel. This brand provides diet-friendly options for lovers of not just margaritas, but also vodka, wine, and ready to serve cocktails! For more info, check out the Skinnygirl website.


New Year’s Travel Ideas

New Year's Travel IdeasLove ‘em or hate ‘em, the holidays are here to stay. You might find it tempting to go away for the holidays, especially if you are in a situation where your holidays revolve around visiting numerous different family members across several days. Still, your family might be disappointed not to see you over the holidays, and you might not like disrupting tradition either. Why not plan some New Year’s travel ideas to look forward to instead?

No matter if you want to go away over New Year’s Eve or in the actual New Year, sometime after New Year’s Day, a New Year’s vacation can be just the thing to refresh your mood and shed some stress. Consider these New Year’s travel ideas to help get you through the holidays:

1. Times Square, New York City, NY – If you don’t mind crowds, consider spending your New Year’s evening in the city that never sleeps. It is probably something everyone should add to their bucket list to do at least once.

2. Paris, France – Ooh, la la – what a romantic and/or exciting way to spend the holiday. You can enjoy an incredible country of romance and charm with your sweetheart, your friends, or even your family.

3. Italy – With a name like La Festa di San Silvestro, Italy’s New Year’s festival is one you won’t want to miss, with its fireworks, dancing, and delectable food as far as the eye can see.

4. Las Vegas, Nevada – Because, why not? The city has more forms of entertainment and nightlife than you can shake a stick at, and the long list of food and alcohol options to boot.

5. New Orleans, Louisiana – With all the fun and insanity that encompass Mardi Gras, how could you imagine anything less for this playful and memorable city? When the clock strikes 12 the party is just beginning!

6. Atlanta, Georgia – Have a peachy time at this huge New Year’s travel hotspot where you can watch the Peach Drop in honor of Georgia’s state fruit.

7. Key West, Florida – Enjoy a pirate themed New Year’s celebration complete with cannons, a pirate wench, and more.

8. Walt Disney World, Florida – If you have kids, or if you’re still a kid at heart, a Disney World vacation may be the best option for you to ring in the New Year. Just think of how much better those fireworks are going to be on a night like December 31!

These are just a handful of fun and exciting places you can go to ring in the New Year. Where do you prefer to celebrate the New Year? Do you have any New Year’s travel ideas of your own? Please share your thoughts in our comments below.


Top 3 Gifts Ideas for the Church During Christmas

Gifts for ChurchChristmas is above all the time to be charitable and give to others in need, or better yet join your local church in their rally to give gifts to struggling families in need. Even though most of your budget may already be geared towards gifts for your own family and Christmas food shopping, you can really help to make a difference in someone else’s life through your local church’s outreach program in the community.

1. The most common types of gifts to the church during this season are monetary endowments. They don’t have to be overly large either, as any amount will be received with gratitude. Giving money will also allow the church to allocate the money as and where necessary. If you don’t have enough to donate on your own and have a large family, then a good idea might be to get every working member of your family to pitch in with a small amount each.

Gift ideas for Church2. If you feel as though money is too impersonal, then it may be helpful to ask your church what it is they need to collect for their Christmas outreach program. For example, some churches hand out shopping lists during services, where you can buy up a few items to fill up a large or a small Christmas gift hamper like one from interflora. That way, you will only buy the essentials that families need to get through Christmas.

3. You will undoubtedly have a few items or clothing that you want or need to get rid of. There is no reason to wait all the way until summer to have that garage sale you have been dreaming of, when you can easily set up a small sale during the weekend. The best part of it all is that if people know that you are trying to raise money for a good cause, they will more likely buy something whether they need it or not, because they get to participate in a good cause in some way, shape or form.

Alternatively, if some of the families within the outreach program need some essential housewares, blankets, or clothing and you have some that are in good care, then you could always give that too.

Giving doesn’t take a lot – you just have to find a need and then fill it. It is ultimately the thought that counts.

Do you have any more gift ideas for charity or the church? Share them in our comments below.