Tuesday, December 29, 2020

And a Rocking New Year

This JBL Pulse 4 another awesome item that was intended for feature in my Holiday Gift Guide, but again, it arrived just a few days late. With every shipping carrier facing record delivery volumes, it is completely understandable. 

 No matter what the occasion, this is still a super cool gift. And how that the holidays are over, it's even more acceptable to get yourself gifts and not feel guilty. Think of it as an investment in yourself. A tool for achieving your resolutions, whatever they may be.

My primary resolution happens to be fitness related, so I can totally excuse this as an asset in that goal. Workouts are always more effective, and certainly more fun, when set to music.

Of course, I don't actually need an excuse. I will unashamedly be using this epic Wireless Bluetooth Speaker for much more fun pursuits, as well. 

Music is pretty much my biggest passion. With concerts being impossible until who knows when, home listening is important than ever. Being able to rock out to the songs I love is so important to me. Stellar quality and fun, fabulous lights from a speaker that is waterproof, is not quite necessary, but I still going to act like it is.

While you should absolutely not be hosting any physical gatherings this New Year's Eve (or any time, really, until it's safe), this is still an iconic choice for any New Year's Eve fun. Whether you still party over video call, or if it's just you and your significant other and/or kids, or pets, or even solo.

It's also a perfect addition to all your social stories. And it's made to last, so when it is safe to have parties again, you will already be set. 

No matter what the new year brings you, I wish you health and happiness. And compassion. We all need to get through this together. Be safe.

*Although I received this product at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Friday, December 18, 2020

Holiday Gift Guide - Visible Vibrations

If you know anything about me, you'll know that I am majorly passionate about music. And not only do I love the music itself, but I love all the experiences that go along with it. Live performances, music videos, band interviews, and merchandise.

I kind of get obsessive about merchandise, in fact. I love being able to show my interest through my clothes and accessories. It helps me feel like I am expressing my true self. And it is just really fun to collect. Some people collect figurines or baseball cards, I collect brand merchandise.

I especially focus on collecting for my favorite brand, My Chemical Romance. I have albums, clothing (so much clothing), action figures, collectible masks, box sets, magazines and so much more. I recently added another stellar piece to my collection.

I got this fantastic My Chemical Romance Poster from Visible Vibrations. Visible Vibrations is an online music collectors superstore. They have a large selection of rare, vintage memorabilia, like exclusive posters and photos and old ticket stubs, t-shirts, buttons, key chains, toys and more.

The poster is really cool, because it is limited to 200 copies. Mine is #157/200. I really love owning something that is limited. There is an exclusivity to it that just makes the item feel so much more valuable.

There is another variant of the My Chemical Romance poster that I have my eye on, for sure. But I did a little (more like a lot) of looking around and there are so many other things that I would love to have as well. There are some other super cool band posters, from some of my other favorites, like Linkin Park, The Used, Fall Out Boy, Queen, and so many others. 

If you have any music fan or memorabilia collector on your holiday list this year, I highly recommend Visible Vibrations. The selection is fantastic. Really cool stuff you won't find anywhere else. It's really nice to get a gift that you know the giver got just for you. Something they chose because they know you would appreciate it, and that they sought out for you. Gifts like these, like the ones from Visible Vibrations, are memorable and extraordinary. So much more than just a box a chocolate from a mass retailer shelf.

I hope you all have a safe, magical an musical holiday season.

*Although I received this item at no cost, to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Holiday Gift Guide - Peanuts 70th Anniversary

Times may change, but there are some holiday traditions that never do. Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the things that has stayed with me all throughout my own childhood all the way up into motherhood. Now my oldest child is a teenager and my youngest is 9 going on 19, but we still watch it every year (multiple times).

Peanuts specials actually play a huge part in our traditions for every holiday, with Thanksgiving and Halloween being most notable. I actually have come to refer to Halloween time on as "Peanuts season". I love that these stories really stand the test of time. They are more than just nostalgia (although they are that too, of course). They are still relevant themes that remind us what the holidays are really about.

This year is the 70th anniversary of Peanuts, and in celebration of that, the most beloved holiday album of all time is getting a re-release in a CD and vinyl form. I have only recently begun collecting vinyl, but I already love it. There is something so satisfying about holding the large album in your hand and they look so nice on the shelf. It just makes me feel more connected to the music. Plus, the pressing is green. How cool is that? I love colored vinyl.

Of course, in addition to the vinyl and CD, the soundtrack is also available for streaming on various sites, like Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and more. As wonderful as the nostalgia of a hard copy is, the convenience of streaming is so great. Another way to help transition our old classics into timeless traditions. Though we still use CDs (and vinyl, of course) in our household, we still stream constantly, especially in the car. My son loves this album and has it on Spotify daily.

I know you will all be excited to stream this iconic soundtrack, as well. But as an extra treat, I've been allowed to host a giveaway. One winner will receive a DC copy of the soundtrack. Enter below for your chance to win. Good luck!

*Although I received this product at no cost, to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Holiday Gift Guide - Janie's Cakes

The holidays this year are going to be a lot different than many previous years. This pandemic has affected us all, in so many ways, and it continues to make its mark on us, by changing how we can celebrate. It is going to be hard, of course. Maybe physically, definitely emotionally, but there will be challenges that are unique to this year.

That doesn't mean, however, that we cannot celebrate, or that the holidays will be any less special than they always are. We just have to adjust and keep a proper perspective. But the holidays are not canceled. And just because we have to find a more socially distant way to spend time with our loved ones, doesn't mean we won't be with them in the way that really matters.

One thing that we always do is bake. We bake a ton of treats and then we go and deliver them to our relatives and friends that are near by. It is still safe to do that! Just instead of greeting them with a hug or going inside to chat for a bit, you can leave them outside the door. And just because you don't chat face to face doesn't mean you can't video chat with them and have just as meaningful of an interaction.

If you do not want to deliver home made baked goods, or have people further away and don't want to ship them, there are other ways to send home made goodness to the people you care about. Janie's Cakes is a great way. I had one of her amazing cakes on Thanksgiving (yes, Keto had to wait a few days). It was literally, no exaggeration, the best pound cake I have ever had.

We had the Italian Jane, which is Vanilla pound cake, filled with Italian buttercream, and topped with toasted pecans. So incredible.

It was decadent, but still somehow light enough that you could have a large piece and not feel like it was too sweet. Although, perhaps from a weight aspect, that is a drawback. If it is, that is the only one you'll find with this cake. It was divine. 

If you looking for a food gift to send, or a dessert for your own family gathering (immediate family, your own household, please, so we can beat this), I cannot recommend something higher than a cake (or 5) from Janie's Cakes. There will be one of these cakes on my holiday table every year form now on.

That is one thing to try to keep in mind throughout all this. While having to make changes may seem inconvenience, you may end up finding something that becomes a new tradition. Familiarity is great, of course, but change can be good sometimes, even if it comes from something that isn't good. Growth can be an amazing gift too.

Stay healthy, safe, socially distant, and stay thankful. The holidays will still be happy.

*Although I received this product at no cost to facilitate a review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Fun Holiday Recipes from Marc Zboch and More

It seems like every year, around the holidays, is always when I decide to start wanting to try new things. I start to get curious and feel creatively charged, like I can unlock all the secrets of the universe if I just find the best vegetable dip or specialty cookie recipe. I kind of want to question why I get that rush of ambition only near the holidays. But better than questioning it is just embracing it and enjoying all the experience and new favorite recipes that it brings me.

This year is a little different, of course, but I am still starting to feel drawn to find new creations. I have already found a couple that I am really excited about. Apple Pie is an absolute staple of the holidays, so, naturally, I wanted to find a recipe that still includes that, while taking it to new, more interesting, heights. This Salted Carmel Apple Pie Recipe seems to take the cake, or pie.(HaHa, pie. Get t? My bad puns are so funny, right?)

Okay, so next I really wanted to find a nice Chipotle Sweet Potato recipe, but I already pretty much have that down, and all the recipes I looked at didn't seem to be as good, and they seemed to be needlessly complicated. I am all for extra effort, but I don't want added work when it is not necessary. But, I digress. I guess I just wanted to pat myself on the back for already be good at Chipotle Sweet Potatoes.

But, I still wanted a potato recipe. I love to experiment with potatoes. So many possibilities. And, since I love everything rich, creamy and too high in calories, I wanted something decadent. I decided on Potatoes Au Gratin. There were so many recipes to choose from, but this one was very simple and I loved the option of choosing gruyere cheese and red potatoes, instead of the usual russet.

They came out so good, you have no idea. Just so rich and comforting, like something your grandma would make at Sunday dinner. These are truly ideal for any holiday dinner. They would pair extremely well with ham, though they would be good with turkey, roast, and other meats too. And of course, they are wonderful for those who do not eat meat. They are certainly enough of a start to be the main dish.

When I first set out to do a holiday recipe round-up, I wanted to include at least one Keto recipe, since I am supposed to be staying on track. But who am I kidding? It's the holidays, I won't be on track. However, I was thrilled when I did happen upon an interesting recipe and it just so happened to be Keto.

This wonderful tea based drink, called a Marc Thomas, is a recipe from Marc Zboch He came up with it through his travels through the Caribbean, specifically Grenada and Northern India. The recipe is super simple, almost ridiculously so, and it is adventurous, due to the exotic (to me) nature of it's origin, and it is also extremely comforting. It is perfect for cozy winter nights by the fire.

So, me and my temporary determination have a lot of cooking (and eating) to do, but I would love to hear about your favorite holiday recipes. Whether they are traditions you've had for years, or something new you just discovered. It is so wonderful how food is something we can all bond over. Until next time, stay safe, happy and full.