From Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1937 lobster dress to Lady Gaga’s iconic meat dress, food has long been a visual treasure trove for designers hungry for inspiration. Lately, fashion shows have been a smorgasbord of culinary-oriented clothing and accessories, with Moschino serving up fast-food styled dresses and Kate Spade models toting bags shaped like Chinese take-out containers.

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Throwing summer parties, like weekend barbeques, birthday bashes, and dinner parties, are always fun, but let’s face it, these warm-weather months can get too hot for comfort.  When the sun’s scorching heat beats down on your summer celebration, serve ice-cold refreshments to help guests keep cool and in the right merrymaking mood.

From delicious cocktails to kid-friendly drinks, these thoroughly satisfying thirst-quenchers fit perfectly with the Christmas in July party theme we presented in a previous article, and are an exciting addition to any summer party menu.

Iced Eggnog

The signature beverage of the Christmas season, old-fashioned eggnog may be too heavy to enjoy in the summertime. Instead, serve a batch of Iced Eggnog, an easy-to-prepare concoction that originates from the land down under. With their Christmas taking place at the height of summer, our Aussie friends are experts at cooling down while whooping it up. (more…)

On a cold winter day, a nice hot and comforting drink really hits the spot. From wholesome hot chocolate to creamy coffee with a kick, these delicious and easy-to-prepare beverages will have you warm and cozy in no time.

1. Vanilla Café au Lait

Dark coffee and heated milk combine to create café au lait, a smooth and mellow pick-me-up enjoyed the world over. This version uses real vanilla beans to add a delicious new dimension of fragrance and flavor to a traditional French favorite.

White cup of frothy coffee on top of a pile of coffee beans

A cup of vanilla cafe au lait is the perfect drink for a cold morning

To prepare, simply combine three cups of whole milk with two tablespoons of sugar and 1 split vanilla bean in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes before removing the vanilla bean. Whisk the milk mixture briskly for a minute then pour over four mugs of strong brewed coffee.

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It may seem ironic, but feeling stressed after Christmas is not uncommon. After enjoying a fun and exciting vacation, many people dread returning to their usual work routine. Factors such as pressure to become productive again, anxiety over New Year’s resolutions, and other expectations can make it hard to relax and focus. Let’s look at some ways of coping with post-holiday stress.

1. Clear out remnants of the holidays.

Don’t wait too long to take down the Christmas tree and pack away decorations. Seeing these can bring back memories, good or otherwise, and prolong your holiday hangover.

Various Christmas decor scattered on table

Less clutter and distractions allow you to concentrate on more important things. Look at this as a great opportunity to rearrange the furniture and redecorate for the rest of winter. (more…)

Christmas is a time for giving, caring, and sharing blessings with those you love most. The best part comes when you all sit down at the dinner table to enjoy a great, home-cooked meal peppered with great conversation. But just as you’re about to dig into your second helping of sweet potato pie, the inevitable happens. You find yourself in the hot seat and the same old embarrassing questions about your weight, job, and love life start to flow like the wine which you suddenly wish you had more of.

This year, deflect uncomfortable questions and steer towards more pleasant topics by impressing your relatives and friends with these fun and fascinating Christmas trivia.

1. Rudolph’s red nose

What’s the real cause of Rudolph’s famous crimson-colored nose? Allergies? Too much peppermint schnapps? In 1986, a Norwegian scientist speculated that a parasitic infection of the respiratory system discolored poor Rudolph’s honker.

Illustration of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (more…)

Holidays are a time for indulgence. Serve these creative Christmas drinks to put everyone in a festive mood.

1. Snowman Hot Chocolate from Meet the Dubiens

There is nothing quite like curling up with a mug of steaming hot chocolate to warm you up on a cold winter. Make your regular hot chocolate even more special by dissolving a candy cane to give it a hint of mint. Throw in some whipped cream and toss snowman decorated marshmallows on top for a cute and adorable treat!

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Christmas is fast approaching and your shopping list is still looking rather long. Fret not! Here are quick last minute shopping tips to get you through the holiday rush.

 

1. Shop Online

computer mouse and credit card for online shopping

Do your online shopping early. Check out online retail stores at least a week before Christmas. While some retail companies now offer same day delivery at a higher cost, it is still best to order it in advance to avoid stress and disappointment. Read the FAQ section of your chosen online shop to find out their shipment schedules. If the website has an unreliable schedule, start looking for other online stores to save yourself from the hassle of figuring out whether your purchases will arrive on time. As an additional tip, avoid purchasing items that may take longer to deliver, like customizable gifts and large items.

Pick up the items instead of having them shipped. Save time by using the “in-store pick-up” feature of online shops. Some stores send a message via email or text to inform you that your item is ready; all you have to do is drive by the store to pick it up. No need to waste time searching around the aisles because you have already picked items online. Not only will you eliminate waiting time with this feature, you also save on shipping charges.

Shop safely. Do your research on the item you are purchasing by reading up on product reviews and looking for comparative features and prices. Because you will be giving out personal information, such as your phone number, address and credit card number, make sure to shop only from secure websites. Aside from product reviews, read up on testimonials about the online store as well to learn from other people’s experiences.

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Office workers, corporate execs, freelancers, and entrepreneurs – they all can’t wait to take some well-deserved time off this Christmas. If you have a special man or woman in your life who is as busy as bee, here are some gift ideas your hard-working significant other will adore.

1. Electronic Accessories

For Him:

A professional can amass a lot of documents, presentations, reports, and other digital files on a regular basis, and he will want some place to safely keep all that important stuff.

A 1 terabyte external hard drive, such as this WD My Passport Ultra from Best Buy, is a versatile device that is compatible with most desktop and laptop computers. A 16 gigabyte USB flash drive is a good, affordable alternative and is easier to carry around.

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Instead of trudging to the mall with your Christmas gift list, consider shopping online instead. Cyber Monday offers online shoppers great deals with the added benefit of convenience. Make the most of your Cyber Monday shopping spree with these helpful tips.

Make a List

If you plan to visit several websites to make multiple purchases, be sure to have a list of gifts you intend to buy in order to minimize confusion and the time you spend online.

Green keyboard button for shopping

To prevent the lure of impulse buying, write down your budget for each item, and stick to your list!

Research and Compare Prices

Be careful of marketers that try to make regular prices appear like bargains. Before doing any cyber shopping, find out the approximate retail price for your items so you can spot the real deals.

Pile on dollar bills

While shopping, make use of comparative shopping engine apps or tools to check the lowest possible price for your items across the web and at local stores. Sign up for email alerts from price comparison sites for a heads up on hourly deals.

Track Retailer Promotions

If you have a preferred retailer, monitor their blog and sign up for their newsletter a week or two before Cyber Monday to stay informed about upcoming promos and to avail of exclusive subscriber coupons.

Make sure to follow your favorite stores and brands on Facebook and Twitter. They will often announce their latest discounts and deals on popular social sites.

Protect Yourself Online

Guard yourself against identity theft and online fraud. To check if a site is private and secure, look at its URL and see if it says https:// and shows a small padlock icon during the payment process.

Shopping online with a credit card

Make sure your anti-virus software is running and up to date. An effective anti-virus program can detect viruses and key loggers used by phishing scams to steal your personal or credit card details.

You can never be too careful when it comes to passwords. Secure your phone, tablet, and wireless network with a password made up of upper and lowercase letters and numbers. Create a new password for each site that requires you to sign up for a shopping account.

Be Early and Act Fast

Keep in mind that items with low prices may be limited in quantity, so start your bargain hunting early. Avoid peak shopping hours in the late morning and early evening, and look for online equivalents of “door buster deals” where great deals are offered only for a certain period of time.

Hand on alarm clock

Be careful not to be taken in by the rush of the sales tactic or you may end up making a lot of unnecessary purchases.

If you’re planning to buy a new Christmas tree this year, check out our Cyber Monday sale and find a fun and fabulous Treetopia tree that’s perfect for you.

 

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Photo Credits
Photo from Stuart Miles via Freedigitalphotos
Photo from Publicdomainpictures via Pixabay
Photo from Naypong via Freedigitalphotos
Photo from Stuart Miles via Freedigitalphotos

Black Friday is arguably the most awaited day for holiday shoppers and bargain hunters. This annual event can be full of frenzy and excitement, so consider these simple and helpful shopping tips when deciding what to buy on this madcap day.

Electronics

Be careful when buying big ticket items like a TV. Some low-priced TVs are derivative models produced especially for Black Friday and may have lower specs, less features, or a shorter warranty than the standard model. This may be acceptable for a second or third set, but if you are looking to upgrade your main TV or build a home theater, remember that the best TV deals are offered right before the Super Bowl in early February.

Widescreen projection TV in a luxurious home theater

The Superbowl season is the best time to buy a TV

Don’t be tempted to buy an outdated smartphone just because it comes free with a 24-month service contract. Chances are very good that you can find great deals on newer phones at the same store. Compared to last year’s models, recently released phones usually have a sharper screen, faster processor, and more convenient features.

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