Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Sun and Giving Back

I just came back from an amazing 4 days in South Beach Miami and Key West Florida with my sister celebrating her 40th Birthday. Note to self: Always have a birthday destination celebration. Especially somewhere sunny and tropical!

Since my sister is a December baby, so is my mother (on 12/12) and my precious little boy (12/13) who will be turning 4 yrs old this year. So you can imagine I am feeling a little wee bit mucho feeling the pressure since that is how I am wired. Who isn't? Not only do I have the pressure to make sure my son has a beautiful experience with Christmas (this year he is really into Santa Claus) as well as his birthday. It is not his fault he was born in December!

What better way to decompress prior to the madness with a getaway mi ermana ( Miami is very Spanish, in fact, you better practice speaking Spanish as you feel you are literally in South America or the Caribbean). We have not been to Miami since before we got married and had children. Yikes!

I am very lucky my husband was able to take time off while mommy "had to go and meet Santa Claus in person and ensure he knows what a good little boy her son is and reconfirm his gift list".
Hey, a parent has got to do whatever it takes to make their children happy right? Smile.

My sister is a great travel partner as we have travelled halfway around the globe together since we were in our teens and twenties. We spent 2 1/2 months in Europe back in the day when Europe was affordable. There was no such thing as the 'euro' back then. We saw the Berlin Wall. You get the idea now.

We had a nice and stress free holiday and now I know why people go somewhere warm in the winter months. Snowbirds and "nortoamericanos" is what they call us who come visit. Imagine wearing flip flops and tank tops in the month of December when the high was 87 degrees and the low was....gasp! 70s. I could get used to coming down here more often! A funny sight for us was watching the female Miamians ( I hope that is the correct way I address the natives down there) wear winter boots of any kind with their outfits.

Alas, all good things have to come to an end and on my way back home I had a layover in Atlanta. Since I had some time to hang around my gate again I am one of those astute observers where I was reading the billboards. This one really caught my eye from Oxfam. We keep fussing on searching for the perfect gift for our loved ones that we really need to step back and see what giving back to a total stranger can have such an impact on their lives. For example, a gift of $25 and under can provide a child clean water, a mosquito net or even a meal at their school. Please check this site and refer all your family and friends that instead of accepting a gift to donate to Oxfam. This organization has been around for years and is reputable.

I sure will.

Until then...keep smiling!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Latte & Frugalista Chic

Ahh... the holidays are upon us... Images of sugar plums dancing in our heads while dreaming if Santa Claus will be providing us with treats (or a big fat lump of coal) under our Christmas trees. Who am I kidding?! That is what I want.. those images on the books I read to my son at bedtime. Meanwhile in the back of my do lists.. keep spinning around faster than a holiday toy.
It is December already and I have to make sure the house is decorated, send the holiday cards, get those darn white lights installed outside, gear up for my son's birthday party (alas, he was born in December.. a true Sagittarius) STOP! When did life get so rushed and stressful? Oh, that's right, I am a grown up now. Want to know how I literally take a break and say to myself "You deserve it babe" Is it a manicure-pedicure? A trip to the salon? Nope, dear folks.
A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and Cranberry Bliss Bar. Decadent. The minute my eyes saw those red holiday cups I knew the holidays have finally arrived. While I enjoy every last drop and slowly eat each bite to savor those few precious moments I am one of those people that actually read the sayings on my latte holiday cup. This one is so true:

"We invite you to listen to your desires and to renew your HOPE. To see the world not as it is, but as it could be. Go ahead, Wish. It's what makes the holidays The HOLIDAYS."

Time to make that walk again on the walkway to burn off those calories (smile). Maybe the next time I feel the need to hit the pause button I will try the Gingerbread and Peppermint Mocha Latte. All nonfat of course.

Frugalista and Recessionista.
When did being frugal sound so cool? When I hear the word 'frugal' I recall old ladies stealing sugar packets from restaurants having their early bird specials.
Now they are buzz words for the fashion world. Back in my day when I was a university student it was called shopping vintage at local thrift stores. Imagine my mothers' horror after my sister and I came home shopping from this cool store in Chicago called "The Alley" (were you literally would have to enter through a back alley) coming in with my old, er, vintage Doc Martens combat boots and army coat. "People have died in those clothes!! and you are bringing them in my house?" she would screech.

For those of us who have always wanted to look like the cover from a fashion magazine (moi) but cannot afford the fabulous clothes (again, moi), check out Nina Garcia for Target (pronounced 'tarjeht' in a fake french accent). Watching the cute little clips there are such darling ways to wear the classics or the new trend without breaking the budget. Nina also shows you how important it is to have accessories..that bright handbag or scarf can really do wonders for your wardrobe. Sign up and you will receive email updates on the latest and greatest. C'est magnifique!!

~ Skin Byte ~
This is not to be confused with an insect bite (smile).
No matter where you live, a change in the seasons means your skin is changing as well. What used to be a hot and humid (or dry) summer and possibly autumn means a drier winter. Being indoors with forced heat and then cold dry air can wreck havoc on your skin. A 'frugalista' tip: Essential oils. People now call them 'serums'. Translation? Organic essential oils found at your local health food stores or Whole Foods.
All you need to do is after washing your face in the morning or getting ready for bedtime, just dab a few sprinkles on a handtowel and microwave for 2 minutes. Press firmly on your skin and relax for at least 20 minutes while the heat fades away from the towel. You will see amazing results since, like your figure, your skin needs to be fabulous during the holidays.

Until then...keep smiling!