Culture

Happy Holidays everyone! Whether you just finished celebrating Chanukah/Hanukkah, are currently enjoying Christmas, or are getting ready for Kwanzaa tomorrow, we hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family. With the last week of 2014 upon us, we encourage you to think about the ways that you want to Seize Your Youth in the New Year! We will be here to provide you with inspiration, ideas, and support as you jump in.

As always, thank you for being part of the Carpe Juvenis community!

– Catherine and Lauren

CultureHealth

For the holidays, I decided to give my mom a “spa package.” I made her some natural lotions, natural sugar scrubs and got her gift certificates for a mani/pedi and facial (I tried making natural soaps, too, but that was a major fail). While making the lotions and sugar scrubs, I realized just how simple they really were, and I decided to make them for all of my family members and friends.

If you need a super last minute gift idea, or plan on giving friends gifts after the holidays, this is a great one. If not, this is still a simple, fantastic sugar scrub recipe that will leave your skin soft, smooth, hydrated and smelling delicious. It takes about three minutes, two everyday ingredients that I guarantee you already have (if you have a kitchen) and a container, like a mason jar, for storage.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Small mason jars (I found some cute 4 oz. ones at a craft store. You’ll want a fairly small size, because this scrub contains no preservatives and should be used within two months)
  • ½ cup sugar (white or brown)
  • ¼ cup oil (olive, almond and coconut are great options)
  • Optional: essential oils of your choice (I used lavender, rose and peppermint essential oils in different batches)

All you need to do is add the sugar, oil and about 15-20 drops essential oils into a bowl and mix until the sugar is completely coated. Then scoop it into a jar and you’re done! Add a cute label or tie some twine around it for effect.

You can also add different herbs or spices – I added ground cinnamon into my peppermint batch and thyme leaves to one of my lavender batches. Raw natural honey is a wonderful addition, too, as it’s great for softening skin.

A few things to note – be sure you choose a natural, organic oil, or else you’re thwarting your whole natural, chemical-free plan!

Additionally, should you choose to use coconut oil, most will come in solid form. You will need to melt it to liquid form before mixing. It is quite easy to melt – you can scoop it into a glass jar or container and put the container in a pot of simmering water until it melts. You could also use a double boiler or microwave it, although I prefer the glass jar method. It only takes a few minutes at most.

Finally, if you don’t want your coconut oil to smell like its strong coconutty self, be sure to buy refined coconut oil. It’s still natural coconut oil, and I prefer it in natural products because of its scentless-ness.

I used olive oil for mine and the olive oil scent is easily masked by the essential oils!  Olive is a great oil to use in natural products because its smell is light and often undetectable, even when not mixed with essential oils.

I hope you love this sugar scrub! What natural products or homemade gifts do you like making?

Image: Debra

CultureTravel

The winter break for a native New Yorker can seem pretty uninteresting. After all, I’ve been hanging around the five boroughs for about two decades, and the crowded museums and expensive restaurants and confused tourists lose their luster. The best thing to do is to find a few friends and do some cool things together. Even a seemingly sad trip to a noodle restaurant can be great bonding time. Here are a few things that anyone, including local college students, can do this winter break in the city!

1. Ice skating

I know. I know. You go every year and you’ve given up trying to do a triple lutz years ago. But have you been to every ice skating rink in the city? People always go to Rockefeller or Central Park’s ice skating rinks, but there is one in all of the five boroughs. My personal favorite is Bryant Park because if you own your own pair it’s free admission, and because I get to gorge myself on food in the holiday markets outside. I also tend to go in the middle of the day so it isn’t terribly crowded. Each rink has its own vibe, so go on different skate days during the weekdays (less crowded) and see if you find your own favorite. Speaking of food…

2. Food Day in Flushing

While everyone thinks of Manhattan and Brooklyn, there’s also Queens. Specifically, Flushing. It is mainly a Chinese neighborhood, meaning there are tons of restaurants and shops to go to. Grab a few friends (vegetarian friendly!) and head up to Flushing via 7 train. Spend the day walking around, going to food courts, mulling over ­posted menus in the window, and dare your friends to try to eat something they can’t pronounce. You never know what you’ll find!

3. Bushwick Shopping

A lot of my friends live in Bushwick and commute to school via the L train. Along that line are a lot of new businesses, and with that, shopping opportunities. Whether they be thrift shops, jewelry shops, or small cafes, Bushwick is a good place to go explore. If you have a friend who lives there, make some plans to do a tour-­and-­explore day. A nice brunch and a girl’s shopping day, and since it’s the holidays, what better time to shop?

There are plenty of things to do in the city, even for the jaded New Yorker. Find some friends and explore the boroughs. You never know what you may find!

Image: AntheaAtlas

Culture

The end of the semester is almost here, and with that comes final exams. As a college freshman myself, I am especially nervous for the upcoming week-long cycle that seems to be everyone’s doom. But with all the hectic lists of things to do while preparing ourselves, I have to remind myself that it is equally as important to take the time to relax and wind-down.

Plan out this upcoming week to see how you can spend the time you have. Make sure you have time to study before your exams but also time to sit back and watch a movie with some friends while drinking hot chocolate. Giving your brain a rest will only help yourself to remember all the facts you need to know. Here is a list of a few movies to warm your heart with childhood memories and allow you to take a break from the stressful world.

1. The Little Mermaid: One of my personal favorites that is sure to help you take a trip down memory lane!

2. Home Alone: To get into the holiday spirit, be sure to put on this classic movie.

3. The Lion King: This one is sure to put a smile on your face and remind you how much fun just being a kid can be!

4. 13 Going on 30: We all need a classic chick-flick to help us relax and unwind!

Putting aside these fun movies, make sure to take a breath with all of your studying. It is just as important to take a break from the books as it is to study away! Best of luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Image: Camille Styles

CultureSkills

As soon as we put down the turkey leg and finished off our apple pie, we blinked and December was here. Even though we’re approaching the 2014 finish line, don’t let that slow you down. The last month of the year can be a new beginning for many different things – goals, activities, habits, skills, and adventures. The holiday season may present a packed calendar with parties, trips, and work to finish up, but don’t wait until 2015 to make resolutions, start something new, or to make self-improvements.

Here are some successful ways to wrap up 2014:

1. Tie up loose ends.

Finish up the remaining items on your to-do list, schedule those doctor appointments, and complete any lingering projects. This way, you can enjoy the holidays and have a fun time ringing in the New Year. Don’t bring unwanted baggage into 2015.

2. Spend quality time with friends and family.

Make time for loved ones. When the New Year begins, everyone will get busy and it’ll be a challenge to find time to spend together.

3. Say thank you.

Write thank you cards, make a phone call to express your gratitude, or mail a small gift to those who were there for you in 2014. If there are people who were influential in your personal or professional life, let them know how appreciative you are.

4. Accomplish resolutions from the beginning of 2014.

What resolutions did you make at the beginning of 2014 that have yet to be accomplished? Do them. We may only have one more month, but there is still plenty of time!

5. Learn a new skill.

You’ve got a month to learn a new skill. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to ski, improve your language skills, or learn how to efficiently use Excel. There’s no better time than now.

6. Take a weekend trip.

You may not have the time or funds to take a big trip this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a quick weekend escape. Sneak in one last adventure before the New Year.

7. Look forward.

Are major changes on the horizon? If not, do you want there to be changes? Think about what you hope to accomplish and start making adjustments in your habits and routine to make those changes a reality. Spend some time thinking about where you’d like to see yourself in 2015 and you’ll be setting yourself up for a great future.

8. Read one more book.

Don’t push off your reading list for 2015. Start now. Tomorrow you’ll be glad you did. In a reading rut? Here are some tips for how to make time to read.

9. Organize your life.

While ‘organizing your life’ is a great resolution for January, why not start getting things in order now? Organizing – whether it’s your physical space, your routine, or your overall organizational ‘system’ – can be a huge undertaking. Start small and pace yourself.

10. Give back to your community.

While it’s important to be involved in your community every month of the year, you may feel more inclined to give back during the holiday season. Don’t wait any longer to help and make a difference.

11. Improve your culinary skills.

There are a lot of delicious holiday-themed recipes and hearty meals that you can make for the cold winter months. Experiment with new ingredients, attempt a challenging recipe, and improve your cooking or baking skills so you can do more cooking at home in 2015.

12. Scrapbook or journal.

Before saying goodbye to 2014, print out photographs from special events that happened throughout the year and create a memory book. Write about how those events shaped you and why they are memorable. This is a great way to remember everything that you have accomplished during the year.

13. Develop good habits.

Trying to wake up earlier, exercise more, or spend less time on social media? Start forming good habits this month, and if any improvements need to be made later, that sounds like a pretty good 2015 resolution.

14. Take time to reflect.

Before the craziness of the holidays and the New Year begin, take some time for yourself. Revisit events that made you laugh and cry, remember the times when you felt hopeful, and meditate on the moments that were more challenging. Contemplate your successes, failures, goals, and accomplishments from 2014. Take pride in what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, and think about what you want to take with you into 2015.

How are you wrapping up 2014?

*This article can be found on The Huffington Post.

Image: mt 23

CultureSkills

We live in a society where we constantly feel judged and pressured to suppress all of our flaws and quirks in order to blend into the “norm.” Especially as young adults, it is extremely hard to be confident about who you are when most of the time we are not even sure who that is. A lot of the time, it is a constant struggle between deciding if you should be yourself or if you should be like everyone else. And if you do decide to be yourself, there’s the question of how much of yourself you should be.

Even though it can be difficult to figure out who you are in this world, it is extremely important to take a note from one of the most unique and inspirational figures of them all; Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. Though he may be a fictional character that comes around each holiday season, Rudolph exhibits all of the qualities that each and every one of us need to embrace more often; being a leader, being a friend, and being himself.

Rudolph’s eventual decision to be confident in his red nose is what makes him a leader. Standing apart from the crowd, along with being happy with who you are, is a tip we can all take from the reindeer himself. Rudolph is also an amazing friend to Hermey and Yukon Cornelius. He supports them in their differences just as they support his. Rudolph also makes sure not to leave behind the misfit toys when he is at the head of Santa’s sleigh, and he makes sure to pick them up from Misfit Island and give them a chance to have homes of their own.

Through being himself, Rudolph is able to help an endless amount of people. Though at first Rudolph is ashamed of his differences, he soon learns that his differences are what save Christmas. And while it may be hard to believe sometimes, we all have our own shiny, bright, red nose to light the way on a stormy night and save the day. So while you sit back with your hot chocolate by the fire and watch your favorite Christmas movie this winter, keep in mind that we all have the ability to be our own Rudolph, and that what we think of as imperfections are actually what makes us wonderfully and beautifully unique.

Image: Story Telling Cooking and Kids

Culture

While it may be hard to admit, girls are some of the hardest people to shop for when putting aside clothes and makeup. And with the holiday season right around the corner, it’s definitely time to start getting the shopping done! Here are five things on every girl’s holiday list:

  1. Coffee

Whether it’s a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks or a Peppermint Mocha k-cup from Dunkin Donuts, sometimes coffee feels like it’s practically our blood. The drink is not only delicious, but it’s something to swear by when waking up for 8:30 a.m. classes and needing something to warm our hands as we brave the cold.

  1. Chapstick

With cold weather comes chapped lips and that’s fun for no one. Chapstick is one of the many simple pleasures in life that we all just can’t seem to get enough of; especially when it comes in so many yummy flavors!

  1. Chipotle

Embracing the calories is all the rage when it comes to Chipotle. What girl doesn’t like indulging in some guacamole? There’s nothing like an excuse to splurge on the love of food!

  1. Uggs

We all have to admit to owning at least one pair whether we’d like to or not. And though it may be hard to admit, this fad may just be the warmest and comfiest of them all!

  1. Yoga Pants

These might as well just be a gift from the universe itself! Yoga pants are a way of life; and a way of looking put together after rolling out of bed. These are sure to keep you comfy but also stylish when the cold weather hits.

What’s on your holiday wish list?

Image: Kevin Dooley

Culture

1. Holidays

The obvious: it’s holiday season. You may celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or just plain old New Year’s Eve. December means shopping. It means pigging out on all year-round-forbidden foods. And it means seeing family and friends and reconnecting with those who you have maybe lost touch with throughout the entire year. I see December as a month of reunion.

2. Hot Drinks

Don’t tell me you don’t participate in PSL season. Okay, if you had to look up PSL, maybe not. Either way, we all know there is nothing more comforting or satisfying than sipping on a searing cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in cold December. It is the time where coziness reaches its climax. Drinking away your calories is acceptable, but only in December.

3. Smell

December has a smell – that is fact. It smells like cinnamon. It has the aroma of pine trees. And it has the faint scent of deliciously baked goods. Am I wrong?

4. Winter Clothes

Summer is definitely a desired season, but during this time you can finally dress in sophisticated coats and elegant scarves that you’ve secretly been waiting to wear all year long.  It’s cold, but not cold enough where you’re forced to wear bulky parkas. Also, it calls for some fun when putting an outfit together – scarves, boots, pants, jackets, ear muffs, hats, and gloves! There is much opportunity to be a fashionista – get creative, my friends.

5. Cozy, Cozy, Cozy

Not only do you get the chance to drink sugar and calories, but December also means sitting by mellow fireplaces, candles, and an excuse to just be lazy for once! The sun sets earlier, therefore your days end earlier and getting home early in the midst of some comforting dim lights is very tempting. Readers: what’s better than spending a night reading a captivating novel by the fireplace?

6. Netflix

Let’s be honest, not all of us have boyfriends and girlfriends to cuddle with. However, Netflix is always there to comfort all singles worldwide. From interesting documentaries to addicting TV shows to the movies we just never had the time to watch during the year, Netflix is our best friend.

7. Vay-cay

December is the time to reunite with family and friends, as previously touched on. However, it is also a time of travels and vacations – be it to see those family and friends or to travel with those family and friends. December is a time to bond with family and friends and get closer to your loved ones while still getting the chance to visit familiar or unfamiliar places!

8. Fluffy Snow

December introduces many parts of the world with snow. By January, the snow is no longer “pretty” because by then, it has turned yellow or brown and icy. However, in December, it is a beautiful thing to see blankets and blankets of freshly fallen snow! Snow angels better be on that to-do list!

9. ABC Family

December tends to revolve around child hood memories and this includes flipping the television channels only to find Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas or Polar Express on. For some of us, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas is on our calendar – spare the judgments, please.

10. Reflection and Renewal

Above all, December is a month of renewal. It is a time to wrap up the year, to wrap up old habits, to plan for new ones; it is a time of reflection and preparation. This is a beautiful time that invites reminiscing and change. Plan to embrace the goals you have for 2015 and think about what you would like to leave behind in 2014. December is the close for the year – enjoy every last moment and squeeze out the best remaining bits of it!

How will you enjoy December?

Image: Stanford

Culture

‘Tis the season to stay inside, cuddle up with good friends, and enjoy some of the holiday’s cinematic greats. The Christmas season has inspired some of the most intriguing, touching, and lesson-filled films in cinematic history, and here are some that you might find yourself watching within the next month:

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  1. A Christmas Story

Iconic for its famous “you’ll shoot your eye out” line and for the fact that TBS literally plays it on a 24 hour loop on Christmas, this classic Christmas tale reminds you of the hope and excitement each and every one of us had as Christmas approached each year. The film follows Ralphie and his exploits as he runs from bullies, wears humiliating costumes made by loving relatives, and fights for his right to own a Red Ryder air rifle. All in all, this movie is hysterical and will remind you of all the antics you got into as a child.

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  1. It’s A Wonderful Life

A little less self-deprecating than the first, this film reminds us in a lighthearted fashion that the holidays are not about gifts or decorations: it is about celebrating with loved ones. This film follows George Bailey, a man who had many aspirations and ideas for his future, who ends up with a life he did not vision for himself. Though he loves his family, Bailey feels as though life would be better off without him and that is exactly what he gets. Bailey is visited by an angel who grants him this wish, and shows Bailey just how wrong he his. He touched and impacted so many people in positive ways, which is kind of the point of the holiday: no matter how tough things are, remember that you have a support system to rely on and be relied upon. Plus, when a very special bell rings in the last scene, you will be filled with all kinds of warmth – I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not seen this movie yet!

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  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Both a Christmas and Halloween movie, this Tim Burton film meshes all the best of the spookiest and the happiest holidays respectively. Jack the Pumpkin King feels as though there is something missing; Halloween has become dull. So, in search of something to spice up the festivities, Jack walks dejectedly into the forest outside of the cemetery to find the seven holiday doors. Accidentally opening the portal to Christmas Town, Jack finds elves preparing for the Christmas season and is very impressed by the entire atmosphere of Christmas. What ensues is a wild idea to mix Halloween and Christmas, and crazy happenings such as kidnapping Santa Claus and battling with the Boogie Man occur. This was most definitely my favorite holiday film as a kid and I recommend it to anyone who loves the creativity of the storyline or just the fact that is has songs in it.

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  1. Elf

This film is probably one of the most quoted and Tumblr reblogged Christmas movies ever.  After discovering he is not truly an elf, the movie follows along on Buddy the elf’s journey to find his real dad. This hilarious Christmas story stars a very funny Will Ferrell, and has many scenes that will have you and your friends bent over in laughter, as well as teaching you an appreciation of the child-like belief that Buddy exhibits all throughout the film – maybe growing up is not always the best idea (but inevitable, nevertheless).

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  1. A Christmas Carol

By far one of the most recognizable Christmas tales, A Christmas Carol has been a staple for the holiday season since its publication. Not to mention its many screen reincarnations, this film can be seen in many forms: one could watch the original, the one with Jim Carrey voicing over a cartoon version of the film, or even a Muppets version in which Michael Caine plays the infamous Scrooge. This classic teaches us the importance of not only being thankful for what we have, but also for inspiring us to help others who are less fortunate than we are. Greed is the bane of humanity, and this story does a fantastic job of giving its audience a newfound appreciation of that notion.

What are you watching this holiday season?

Images: s-herman / Insomnia Cured Here / Chris Friese / J / DVD Talk

Education

Getting back into college mode is hard after a break. While Thanksgiving break wasn’t that long, it was enough time for me to get used to doing nothing but sitting around the house all day, watching movies, and eating delicious food. When it was time for me to leave home, a part of me wanted to stay and start my career as a full-time couch potato. Since that really wasn’t an option, I had no choice but to come back to school. Now that I’m here, the only thing I want to do is be lazy and not do homework or study for finals. It doesn’t help that our next big break is just around the corner.

It’s seriously all I can think about. I don’t know about everyone else, but I am excited to be able to laze about and spend time with family for more than a week. Since it’s the end of the semester, there won’t be any homework or group projects to work on. We will no longer have to worry about studying for quizzes or final exams. We’ll be home free! I know you’re getting starry eyed just thinking about it but don’t let yourself slack off just because we’re almost at the end.

You owe it to yourself to end this semester off strong. Treat your finals like every other test you’ve had thus far and put in the time to make sure you are as prepared as can be for your exams. It’s okay if you had a rough start to the semester. It’s okay if you’re tired. It’s okay if all you want to do is go home and forget about this thing called college for a little bit. I understand how all of you are feeling right now, which is why I am here to tell you to keep pushing. You might’ve had a rough start, but ending strong can make up for that. You might be tired and just want to go home, but your break will be so much more rewarding if you give your finals your all. Not only will you feel great for pushing through, but your grades will reflect your hard work as well. A runner wouldn’t give up or slow down when the finish line is in view. Well, finals week is our finish line. So pretend that you’re that runner. Push yourself to do better and work harder than ever so that you can come out a winner.

Losing momentum is the worse thing you can do to yourself. If you feel yourself wanting to give up, just remember that you can get through this. It doesn’t matter if this is your first semester of college or your fifth. We all need a pep talk during this time of the year. We all need to be reminded that we are brilliant and amazing and we can achieve anything as long as we work for it. So work for that gold medal. Do your best to ace your exams and even if you don’t do your best on an exam you gave your all, just remember that you did the best that you could and really that’s all you can do.

If you want to win a chance to be lazy during Winter break, then earn it by putting a lot more effort and hard work into finishing this race out strong.

You can do it. I believe in you!

Image: Anne

CultureSkills

It’s the time of year where silver and gold are soon to be decking the halls, and while decorating for the season brings nothing but smiles, the decorations can get a little pricey! There are some great DIY ideas to bring the holiday spirit into your home without breaking the budget.

1. Table Décor

Grab some old bottles or jars and cover the outside of them with some holiday paper. Use a contrasting color to write words such as “Joy” or “Noel” with one letter on each bottle! A paper mache technique works great for these!

2. Favorite Cuddly Snowman

Use a lone, clean white sock to make your favorite frosty friend come to life! Using some clear hair-ties to separate each section of the snowman and some black and orange felt for the buttons, nose, and arms, Frosty will be finished in no time! Add some google-y eyes and you’re all set!

3. Rudolph Candle

Take a candle (preferably of a brown color) and go outside to find some branches to your liking. These will serve as Rudolph’s antlers and can be hot glue gunned to each side of the candle! Grab a red cotton ball to put on the front and voila!

4. Frosty Fridge

Possibly the easiest and most inexpensive of them all would be to make your fridge Frosty inspired! Grab some orange and black construction paper to cut out buttons, eyes, and a nose and tape them onto your fridge! Top it off with some holiday patterned wrapping paper to act as a scarf for your new Christmas friend.

5. Candy Cane Bouquet

This is a simple and adorable center piece for your table: Grab some candy canes, ribbons, and either real or fake flowers. Tie the candy canes around the bouquet of flowers with the ribbon, tie a bow, and you’re done. A cute and polished way to add Christmas joy to your table top!

There are so many ways to add holiday spirit to your home, and with Christmas right around the corner, the decorating has just begun!

How are you DIY decorating this holiday season?

Image: Stephen Nakatani

CultureHealth

Thanksgiving is right around the corner – are you hosting friends? Helping family cook up a feast? Bringing a dish or two to a potluck?

Having just moved across the country and begun a new job that doesn’t afford me the time or moolah to jet back across the country on holiday, I’ll be spending my first Thanksgiving away from home. I’m lucky to have a group of friends here who will also be celebrating without family, but we’re not the most experienced chefs, and most of us have never hosted a Thanksgiving party.

Many of us are vegetarians and vegans, which means a little creativity is required to whip up a meatless meal worthy of celebrating on a day that’s known for its turkey, gravy and cheesy casseroles.

Below are recipes for an easy, last-minute, vegan Thanksgiving feast that won’t have you missing meat one bit:

Appetizer

Start off with a fresh, seasonal holiday salad.

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Holiday Salad with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette – from Oh She Glows

Sides

It’s not Thanksgiving without the green bean casserole.

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Vegan Green Bean Casserole – from Fat Free Vegan

Forget the gravy, make this delicious twist on mashed potatoes.

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Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Garlic Aioli – from Oh She Glows

 Stuffing

A delightful veggie twist on traditional stuffing.

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Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout and Bread Stuffing with Apples – from Food52

 Main Dish

 Simple, protein-packed and delicious.

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Quinoa stuffed sweet potatoes – From Veggie Dream Girl

 Dessert

 Easier than pie.

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Vegan Pumpkin Dessert Bars – from The Happy Housewife

 What? I didn’t say it was a healthy, low fat vegan Thanksgiving meal. It’s just animal product-less. And it’s super delicious – click each of the links above for the recipes! Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

What are you eating for Thanksgiving? Share below!

Image: The Happy Housewife

CultureHealth

Nestlé is infamous for many products; I will never forget the excitement I would feel whenever my mother would whip out a container of Nestlé’s powdered chocolate milk. However, it is not chocolate milk or even baby formula that is putting Nestlé at the forefront of health news. The company recently released news about “Exercise in a Bottle” and if it does what they say it can do, this product could mean great things.

The Scientists at the Nestlé Institute for Health Science have found that working on a specific enzyme, AMPK, that, when controlled, stopped the liver’s production of fat. These scientists have coined this enzyme the “metabolic master switcher,” but still reiterate the idea that regular exercise along with use of the product is the best option.

This product will most likely be marketed to people with Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and other metabolism related issues. Nevertheless, the scientists explain that this will most likely be safe for normal use instead of a constant exercise routine after research has been completed on the product. So who’s to say that people with functioning metabolisms cannot use them? After reading this article, one of my friends suggested selling these bottles post-holiday feasts like Thanksgiving. Once you have filled up on stuffing, mashed potatoes, and turkey, instead of feeling lethargic and guilty for a few days you could just down some “Exercise in a Bottle.” Jokes aside, whether or not this product will become geared towards public use is still up in the air, but the fact that scientists have figured out a way for people to regulate their own metabolism and possibly cure their infirmities is miraculous.

Image: Pedro Angelini

CultureHealthSkills

The first thing I do when I get online is go straight to Facebook. Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m doing it. Next thing I know, I’m scrolling through my news feed clicking on links, reading statuses, and commenting on pictures. That entire process seems to take up a good chunk of my time. Why? Because the Internet is a black hole. It sucks away our life and we’re not even aware of it, until we shut down our laptops or tablets and look up to find that time passed us by while we read the latest celebrity gossip or watched the latest episode of our favorite TV show.

While the Internet can be an extremely wonderful place, the outside world has so much to offer. Don’t spend your entire break from school online because if you do, you will have missed out on your chance to get some fresh air or spend time with your family and friends.

I know what I’m about to say might be hard for some of you to do. This is why, before I put in my request, I just want to remind everyone that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest will still be here tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. Spending a few days away from social media and the Internet, in general, won’t make it to disappear into the cyberverse forever. That said (after you finish reading this article of of course), I want everyone to close out of their Internet browsers and shut down every electronic device. Those are two simple steps but it might prove to be really hard for some, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to stay connected at all times.

I am that kind of person too. I like being able to read what’s going on in other countries and, guiltily, what’s going on in the lives of celebrities I like. But, at the end of the day, I make sure to remember my own life. I am young. I still have a lot to explore and a lot to experience. I can’t do any exploring or memory making if I am always sitting in front of a computer screen.

And neither can you.

Get out there! The world is your playground. If you can’t travel to far off places just yet, take a walk around your neighborhood. Check out that store you haven’t gone in yet or maybe try the new coffee shop that just opened. Call up a few of your friends and go see a movie. Do something that doesn’t involve the Internet or social media. Unplugging is seriously one of the best ways you can seize your life because, whether you remember it or not, there was a time when we didn’t have laptops and smartphones and tablets. When we were kids, we still were able to find ways to entertain ourselves that didn’t involve the latest app or Twitter.

Pick up a book from the library, rock out to your favorite song,  and maybe help around the house or clean your room. Do something that doesn’t involve plugging in to the Internet. Do anything that will allow you to seize your youth because you don’t want to look up one day and realize that you didn’t seize every moment of your life. This moment in our lives have the potential to be the greatest. All you have to do is get out there and do more with your time than just stare at a screen. I know unplugging isn’t exactly an easy thing to do, but once you do it I promise you won’t regret it.

Image: Nomadic Lass

CultureHealth

Whether you are having guests over for a celebration or hanging out with friends for a cozy night in, it’s great to know some quick and affordable drink recipes. These simple and delicious beverages are great to have and share!

drinks 3

 Cranberry Citrus Punch

Tangerine or Orange slices
Pineapple Juice
Cranberry Juice
Club Soda

Place a few orange slices at the bottom of a champagne glass, then pour equal parts cranberry juice and pineapple juice. Add 2/3 cup of club soda for some fizz!

drinks 2

Apple Cinnamon Tea

1 Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea Bag (Celestial Seasonings Brand used above)
Fresh cut apple
Cinnamon
Condensed Milk

Add a fun treat to this simple tea by spreading some condensed milk onto an apple slice. Use a knife to scratch a design in the center and sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top. The sweetness of the apple slice is delicious against the tartness of the tea!

drinks 1

Chocolate Coffee

Your choice of coffee (Kirkland Pacific Roast featured above)
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Coconut milk
Nutella
Pecans

Brew a cup of coffee and add two heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder. Feel free to go for sweetened cocoa powder if you’d like it extra sweet. Add 1/3 cup of coconut milk. If you prefer a milkier coffee, include creamer and sugar to your liking. Spread Nutella along the rim of your mug and dip the rim into sliced up pecans or nuts of your choice. Coconut flakes or crushed up candy canes would also be great cup toppers.

All the cups and glasses featured in this article have been purchased from a local dollar store. You don’t have to spend a lot to entertain! Cheers to you and yours this holiday season. Happy sipping! 

Images: Marian Rose Bagamaspad

CultureSkills

There are many things to be thankful for when the Thanksgiving pieces have fragmented into a “disastrous holiday.” This very American, very well planned, very much awaited for holiday may not be the picturesque family-filled weekend.

The Away-From-Home Blues

Not everyone gets the marvelous chance of traveling home for Thanksgiving as intercontinental trips can result in two entire days of travelling, exorbitant holiday fares, or simply lacking the luxury of time to do so. These away-from-home holidays can be seriously depressing – especially when you scroll through your relative’s posts of family reunions or phone calls that report you’re on speaker and all family members you love and secretly hate are together dining without you screaming their “Hellos.” However, if you are away from home, it doesn’t mean you need to celebrate Thanksgiving alone. Call up some friends who are also away from home and have a five-person-Thanksgiving-dinner; try cooking it all together. Amateur cooking without the guidance of your Mothers expertise is only calls for hilarious memories! Another option could be tagging along with along with a friend who has family in the area. Why not experience a different kind of Thanksgiving?

Preparation Timeliness

It’s almost law that you pay a price for the good stuff, no? Food: delicious, anticipated, and the entity that makes Thanksgiving actually happen. In other words, it is one of the most, if not the most important part of any Thanksgiving dinner. However, in order to have your guests roll their eyes in heavenly delight, you must first prepare this complex meal – aka the ultimate “OCD-enticing-price” as people are stressed out of their minds because the food is either finished too early or too late. Both can be disastrous because nothing is better than eating a home cooked recipe fresh out of the oven and nothing is worse than having to wait hours for your long awaited meal. Take a piece of advice: relax. Nothing ever turns out perfectly and that’s just a part of life! The premise of Thanksgiving may have a food component thrown in there, but when looking deeper into the holiday, it’s about being around family and friends and being able to reflect on just how lucky you are to have them!

Bizarre Selections

The quintessential Thanksgiving Dinner: turkey, apple pie, and stuffing? These are all foreign to me as my family celebrates with only a traditional turkey and Colombian food. Maybe we will get the occasional pumpkin pie that is bought from the nearest convenient store and left untouched throughout the night. Our unconventional dinners allow me to realize that there is true beauty in this holiday: the convergence of two cultures. On a different note, there are great stress-inducers other than the turkey not being prepared on time: not having a turkey. Not having turkey is only the worst thing that can happen in any Thanksgiving. But why? Why not have what vegan/vegetarian families have and eat seitan instead? Why not solve the catastrophic problem of having all stores having sold out turkeys by having a chicken substitute instead? The odd substitutes for what is representative of this day may just bring other little surprises!

Family Reunions

Aside from the obvious mishaps that can happen to anyone on any given family gathering, this can be the most unsettling: awkward reunions. It can be the horrible to have to introduce that semi-announced boyfriend or girlfriend. The impressions, the expectations, and the anxiety can all be a bit nerve wrecking. How about this situation: the absolutely irking family members who try to catch up with the happenings of your life by prying with totally eye-rolling questions. They’re all the same. “Any new boyfriends/girlfriends I should know about?” “You’re turning into such a woman/man!” or the expected comparisons to other relatives. Maybe you’re about to see relatives you have not seen in ages. What to expect? Expect anything from total joy to total awkwardness. But, hey, family reunions do these things – they are good problems to have!

Two Ideals. One Night.

“Bye! I’m off on a shopping spree,” everyone practically screams as they hurriedly move from feasting on gluttony to feast on the “more is better” American mantra. You just had a night of thanks for everything you have had and everyone you have had in your life and suddenly America hurries off to Black Friday to catch those 50% off deals like a heard of sheep desperate for a grass buffet. I have forever been curious and mildly disapproving of this concept but it’s very much present in this culture. Perhaps discern this transition with some extra-thanks? Thanksgiving is the time of year when everyone meets in loving gathering – most of the time. It is the time of year when everyone gives thanks for the experiences, opportunities, people, and things in their lives. But it’s also a time when patience, emotions, and your ability to “let go” is tested.

How will you manage your Thanksgiving mishaps?

Image: Satya Murthy