CultureTravel

Globe-trotting and sight-seeing may not always be within our reach. Sometimes our travel funds are running low or we don’t have a long enough break to really go anywhere. For those of you fresh off a semester at school or enjoying time off from work, turn your vacation into a staycation. Staying at home to create your own leisure moments is often times the best way to unwind and stay frugal during the holidays. Travel time: zero. Destination: relaxation.

Ramen and Rom Coms

You know you love it. Invite some friends and family over for a cozy night in. Supply the packages of ramen and have your guests choose their favorite romantic comedies to watch. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s an easy last minute hangout idea. (Life points to the person who chooses Crazy Stupid Love.)

Easy-Peasy Bath Salts

Here is what you’ll need for a luxurious and silky bath time experience. This does wonders for dry skin sufferers, especially in the winter time. It will calm your skin while the epsom salt can help ease joint pain and muscular aches.

 1 cup of sea salt
 ½ cup of baking soda
 2 cups of Epsom salt
 Mix well in a big bowl
 Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil
 Put your mix into a jar and add a few spoonfuls to your next bath!

Tea Party for One

If you’re looking for some solo time, enjoy a piping hot cup of tea and relax with a good book. It’s always refreshing to read for fun (and not for a grade), but if your brain feels fried from final exams and essay-writing, try audible.com to check out their great selection of audio books. Listen to your books instead and sip on some green tea mixed with fresh mint leaves and a dash of sugar.

Music and Mind

Free-writing is both a powerful and cathartic process. Allow yourself to free your conscience completely with 20 minutes of free-writing. There are no rules or prompts or deadlines, just your stream of thoughts put on paper. Play some music (preferably loudly) while you write to fuel your creativity. You never know, you might get a poem, a letter to self, a letter to a loved one, or the start of a series of journal entries. Tip: listening to music and rainymood.com simultaneously creates a wondrous audio experience that is definitely worth trying.

Image: Mike

Health

It’s sick season, and lots of my friends have had strep. I was part of the strep crew, and it hit me hard. I felt awful – major headache, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, the whole nine. I was bound and determined to get rid of it and still avoid antibiotics.

One solution is Thieves oil; it’s antibacterial and antiviral, and cleans stuff pretty darn well. I’ve never used it for strep or illness, but I’ve heard others attest to its incredible healing powers. Sadly, I didn’t have any Thieves, and I’m on a budget here. So I did the next best thing and found the perfect herbal remedy that contained only three simple, everyday ingredients that I already had!

I made it using the recipe below, and ate the whole mixture twice in one day. The next day my throat had made a massive improvement and I had actual energy, so I made the mixture again the next day, eating half in the morning and half in the evening. I also made green tea mixed with apple cider vinegar, a tsp cayenne pepper, lemon juice and a tsp honey, and drank a large mug of it.

By the morning of the third day, my sore throat was completely gone and I felt normal. I drank another of the green tea mixtures just to be on the safe side, and that was the last of the remedies I made. I was cured!

Here’s the magical recipe, which happens to be way cheaper than a doctor visit and a prescription, simple to prepare, way faster than medicine, totally safe and natural. Whether you have strep or just a slightly sore throat, this is a really fantastic method to try.

1 tbsp raw honey
¼ tsp cayenne
3-4 cloves garlic (chopped as finely as you can)

Mix the ingredients and eat it. Don’t wash out the throat; you want the ingredients to coat it.

I made it twice on the first day, but I’ve read that it’s still incredibly effective if just taking it once. Try the green tea mixture, too.

Now go get better!

Let us know in the comments below if this works for you, or if you’ve got other remedies you like to use.

Image: Anna Gutermuth

Health

I’m sure you’re well into your semester and the homework has been piling up. It’s getting a bit hard to get up in the morning, isn’t it? Last time, we discussed the joy that is waking up to tea or coffee. But, you thought, there are so many types of teas and coffees and the menu at Starbucks is so intimidating! Well, let me help you out a bit:

Coffee.

Ah, yes. The traditional, reliable, sometimes too bitter coffee. Don’t get me wrong. Coffee smells lovely. But I have a weak tummy, so coffee is no good for me. There are people who drink this stuff black, or they get some with a bit and milk and sugar. Coffee helps you stay alert, and is a sharp wake up call for those who really need it.

Espresso.

It’s the coffee without the sugar and milk. It’s black, strong, and short. Bam! Drink at your own risk. It’s a dose of caffeine and I’ve met people who get headaches from these, so take care when ordering one of these.

Americano.

Espresso + hot water. Watered down espresso. You can take it with milk, but a great way to drink it is to take it iced.

Mocha.

Espresso + chocolate. It also has steamed milk, but it’s stronger than a cappuccino. It’s good to try something new, and most people just get coffee in the morning, so this might be a good alternative if you want to try something new!

Cappuccino.

Coffee with steamed milk, nice and frothy. It’s good for someone with a sweet tooth because you can add some chocolate on top. It’s not as strong as coffee, but is stronger than a latte.

Latte.

Coffee but less bitter. It’s really sugary and I don’t see people in my morning classes drinking these very much. After all, it’s just like a cappuccino but with much, much more milk so it’s not too strong, but it tastes nice and fluffy! The pumpkin spice latte is all the rage these days…

Frappuccino.

This is a classic Starbucks drink. Coffee + flavoring (strawberries, pumpkin spice, whatever)+ice+whipped cream. It’s the large drink you would see people holding in the street with all the stuff on top. It’s really amazing, with all the variations of flavor ranging from vanilla to mint, depending on the time of year and location and whatever Starbucks is marketing at the time. Unlike the above drinks, this one is trademarked, but I’m sure there are other coffee places who make similar beverages.

*Coffee is good against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. It is also helpful with certain cancers and heart rhythm problems, as well as strokes. All the drinks listed above have coffee in them, so take your pick!

Caffeinated tea.

The slightly weaker wake up call, but a wake up call nonetheless. Black tea, green tea, they both have caffeine like coffee, but not as much. Tea in general is good for your health, and it fixes things up in your body so it’s good to drink if you’re feeling sick and you’re not sure if you have a cold. It’s a bit more gentle than coffee, but still has a boost.

*Green tea health benefits: improves blood flow, lowers cholesterol, prevents heart-­related issues such as high blood pressure and heart failure, prevents against Alzheimer’s disease related plaques, helps healthy cells grow, and creates a calming effect through a chemical called theanine

Herbal tea.

My favorite is herbal tea. They’re good for sensitive tummies or for when you’re feeling super sick but you have a test and you can’t miss it. They’re teas like ginger tea or fruit teas, and don’t have caffeine. They can be more gentle, like camomile, but may not wake you up. It depends on how you feel and what you need, but sometimes you just want to hold a cup of warmth in your hands, and this is perfect for that.

Don’t forget…

Orange juice, milk, and water. Remember those? Elementary school breakfasts always had these, and for good reason. People who are busy from the moment they wake up are really doing something to their bodies, and it’s good to give it the nutrients it needs.

I hope you find the drink that suits you best, and to try new things once and a while if you dare. Be healthy and hydrated, and don’t forget to eat too!

*research of health benefits found from wedMD.com

Image: Nomadic Lass, Flickr

HealthWellness

Morning, kids! The school semester has officially started. Whether you’re in high school or in college, I’m sure you’re having a great time hitting that alarm and rolling out of bed. I’m not. I think it’s awful.

As a senior in college, let me tell you now: it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you get older. But you figure out ways to trick yourself into believing it does. Something I like to do when I first wake up is think about what tea I want to drink the morning. Yes, tea.

Lying in bed, I’m still enjoying the comfort of my pillow and blanket. But I translate that into a good cup of tea, and that makes me want to get up more. Some people drink coffee, some drink tea, some drink orange juice or a smoothie. Whatever you like, let that be what helps you get up in the morning.

Here are some things to think about when you’re getting your tea and coffee, especially if you’re just starting a routine:

1. Find something easy on your stomach. I know some people who can’t have cold things in the morning, and then there are people who drink iced coffee in the winter.

2. Drink something that doesn’t make you crash. Some people can handle their coffee intake, but then they’re knocked out on the desk or drooling in front of a professor five or six hours later. Take everything in moderation, including your caffeine.

3. Switch it up. A different milk, a latte, Earl Grey. I usually get English Breakfast with milk and sugar, but sometimes it’s good to break the routine and try something new. The morning cup of joe, like college, can provide a routine and stability. But sometimes changing things up can be healthy and refreshing.

Tea and coffee may seem like a small thing, but small things can make life easier and enjoyable. Once winter comes, it will be comforting, and during the spring, it will be reliable. Have a good semester!

Image: Unsplash