Introducing Flat AB Jake

Introducing Flat AB Jake our personalized, more handsome and improved version of Flat Stanley. Let me bring the uninitiated up to speed. For those of us whose kids went through elementary in the last decade, we were subjected to literary character Flat Stanley that travels the world. Each kid in class brought a paper Flat Stanley home for a weekend to take wherever they went. The kids would then take pictures or document their travels in a journal. 

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I got the idea for Flat AB Jake through the Air Force Moms BMT page on Facebook. By the way, This group has been a godsend. Instead of the character, you make your airman into a paper “Flat Stanley.” You take them where ever you go and then take pictures. When you write your airman next, you include the pictures of you and your Flat AB.

We made them up on Christmas Eve. I printed two versions a large headshot and a smaller standing pose. I printed it on card stock, so the paper would be relatively firm. My hubby, who is a rockstar, cut them out using an exacto knife. Needless to say they came out better than I expected.  Since we were going to church with Mel, Jake’s girlfriend who we adore, and her family I was able to bring her both versions. She loved them! Fortunately, I was also able to get a picture of Flat AB Jake enjoying her duet (O’ Holy night and it was awesome.)

As we move through the weeks of training, you’ll see AB Jake make numerous appearances. It’s beneficial to always have him near, but it’s more beneficial for him to see he’s always in our hearts and on our minds. We had our first Christmas without him yesterday and that was tough! As a family we did, however, get some pictures with Flat AB Jake.

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We did get the best present a parent could ask for yesterday: a call home from our airman. I was near tears as my phone started to play Teen Spirit, which is my custom ringtone for him.  It was a spiritual experience.  He sounded amazing. To hear the confidence and happiness in his voice was beyond reassuring. I felt a weight literally being lifted off my shoulders as he told us he had found “where he belongs.”  He met the PT requirements his first week out and is now working with his FLT to exceed them together. He is wearing the blue belt as described in my week one post.  Jake described with joy how close he and his fellow airman had become. It was clear in that phone call that he had made several life long friends.


Perhaps the best part of the call was that it happened while we had Christmas Company. Jake has a lot of people in his corner and a lot of them were able to speak with him and wish him well. My sister in law, who is a genius and makes the best cheesy potatoes, suggested conferencing my parent. We were able to do that successfully and my parents were able to hear first hand how well he is doing. More than anything hearing his happy voice made our Christmas wonderful. It’s still tough to imagine that he’ll miss most Christmas celebrations in years to come, but he’s a part of something bigger than himself, loving it and service his country. We couldn’t be prouder of our AB Jake!

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Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Merry Christmas Eve Eve or as they say in Norway merry little Christmas Eve. With only one day left between us and the Christmas holiday, I find myself woefully unprepared. Nor do I find myself with any desire to brave the South Florida retail scene or roads. Of course, after getting a flat tire on my way to yoga, it’s not like I’m super mobile.

I have finally started my holiday baking. Although I’ll be baking significantly less than last year. This year I’ll be baking two or three different cookies versus last years’ smorgasbord of baking. Fortunately, I may even be making a double batch of my famous caramel rolls. We’ll see!! I’m waiting on the final headcount from the hubby.

Today I spent a peaceful, serene day with Ava. There’s something about holding and rocking a newborn that is soothing for your soul. We hung for a bit while mama headed to her doctor’s appointment and vet appointment. Newborns develop so quickly. It’s awesome to see how she’s grown and developed from Friday to today.

I was going to cap my day with a peaceful and zen yoga practice with Debbie at Open Heart Yoga, but my back tire did not cooperate. Instead my knight in shiny armor came and put on my spare, so I could get home safely. Fortunately, I have a yoga silk, so I was able to do some stretching and inversion work.

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Jake started WOT 2 or week 2 of basic training. We’re hoping to hear from him via letter, carrier pigeon, marching band or a phone call. There’s some speculation on the Air Force Mom BMT group that’s the MTI’s will let them call home, but it’s not guaranteed. My fingers, however, will stay crossed in hopes of receiving a phone call. Anything that would help me gauge how he is doing at BMT.  I miss my boy!

 

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Blue Christmas

It will be a blue Christmas in our household as we celebrate our first holiday with Jake away from home. We’ve never been apart on a major holiday like this, so undoubtedly it will be tough on all of us.  I’ve found it hard to get into the joy of the season.   In fact, I haven’t even decorated the tree or put the tinsel on the railings.

For Jake his blue Christmas will likely include the issue of his dress blues, but also the loneliness of celebrating Christmas away from family and friends. This holiday season keep the airmen, Coasties Marines, sailors, and soldiers serving our country away from family and friends in your prayers. Being lonely during the holiday season is the worst! If you’re so inclined, please send Jake a holiday cRd at the address below.

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Holiday Baking

Holiday baking is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.   It’s steeped in tradition, heritage and reminds me of my childhood.  Growing up we made mint cookies and molasses cookies every year.  Christmas morning my mom would serve her Christmas tea ring.   The memories of making Christmas cookies with my family are some of my fondest.    I’ve carried on many of these traditions making the mint cookies every year.   Over the years, we’ve stopped making the molasses cookies in Florida as they take too much flour to make them manageable.  In lieu of the tea ring, I’ve made my caramel rolls to serve at brunch for over a decade.

I had an amazing time exploring Scandinavia this fall with my son, brother and sister-in-law.  It definitely strengthened the connection I feel to our family’s heritage. As a result, I wanted to infuse some traditional Norwegian and Finnish cookies into our holiday baking.  My aunt, a lefse baking pro, provided us with the recipe for lefse.  I found the recipes for the Norwegian cookies in Norwegian heritage groups on Facebook.  Finally, I was able to find Finnish recipes via google.

The baking started off by baking the mint cookie dough.  I planned to bake several dozen since these cookies were a sure bet.  Unfortunately, dough vultures (a.k.a my kids) thwarted my first attempt.  My next attempt had to be more covert.  Indeed, my mom and I ended up baking three more batches.  We had to hide the dough in one of our three refrigerators to ensure we’d have enough to bake cookies.

My holiday baking this year was more special since my mom was here.  It made our culinary adventure through Scandinavian traditions more meaningful.  Our first task was to make the dough for the kringlas (Norwegian) and juolutorttu (Finnish.) Each of these doughs was quite easy to make.  The kringla is a sour cream dough, while the juolutorttu dough is more of a pastry dough.  Normally, the doughs would need to rest for an hour or two. However, we left them rest overnight due to the climate in Florida.

Cloudberry juolutorrtu
Lingonberry juolutorrtu
Blueberry juolutorrtu

The next morning we started by making the dough for the pulla, a Finnish sweet bread.  Since the bread had to rise for 90 minutes, it was the perfect place to start.  While it raised, we were able to make the juolutorttu and the kringlas.  Traditionally, the juolutorttu is made with prunes, but I didn’t have any and I don’t really like prune.  Consequently, we made ours with lingonberry, blueberry and cloudberry jam that I had purchased on my recent travels.  Both of the cookies were a bit fussy to make, but they were much easier to make than I had to anticipated.   The pulla was relatively easy to make and smelled divine.

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Pulla

As the pulla baked, I headed to the gym for a quick workout before we undertook making lefse.  Once it was completed, we fired up the lefse griddle.  (Naturally, I had bought an entire lefse baking kit.- get it here.)  The lefse would be, by far, the most difficult thing we made that day.  While I was at work the Friday before, my mom mixed up the dough since it had to sit overnight.  Nonetheless, the lefse was still difficult to handle.  Our first attempt was an utter failure, but we improved with each lefse.  By the end of it, we were professionals.

Lefse
Our first attempt

In the end, we worse ourselves out will all of our holiday baking.  On Christmas, we had a plenty of sweet Scandinavian treats to last til next Christmas.   We had great beginner’s luck on all of our Scandinavian treats and I can’t wait to make them again next year.   Below you’ll find the links to the Scandinavian recipes we used this Christmas.

Krumkake with cloudberry and blueberry jams

 

Recipes:

Juolutorrtu (also called juolutorts or north stars)

Kringla

Pulla

Back to Reality

It was back to reality today.  I gotta say this whole Christmas on a Monday and back to work Tuesday stuff is for the birds!  Nonetheless I headed into work Dunkin’ hand.  Truly, I was somewhat relieved that my clothes still fit after this weekend and that traffic was relatively light.  When I got to work, the parking lot was absolutely empty.  At its peak, it wasn’t even close to half full.

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After a weekend of eating everything in sight, today was a good time to get back on track.  Unfortunately, I have a proclivity for sweet treats.  As much as I planned to be good, how could I turn down a perfectly good Christmas cookie?  After all, I won’t be making them again until next December.  I don’t think you can argue with that air tight logic.

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Since I indulged in a couple of sweet treats today, I definitely had some extra motivation for my run.  The Piggie and I logged 2.5 miles before I headed to yoga.  Indeed it was a nice run with comfortable temperatures and a pretty consistent pace.  As I ran, I was a bit mad at myself for not maintaining my running last spring.  In some ways, I feel like I’m back to the beginning of training.  Whereas, last spring I finally got my mile below 8 minutes, I’m back to running a mile in 9:5 minutes.

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In 2018, I’ll be re-committing to running and regular training. I’d love to finish 2018 with either a half marathon or two 10ks under my belt, but more on 2018 in a later post.  In order to train successfully, I have to make sure my legs stay healthy.  Consequently, I spent a good 15 minutes stretching my legs post-run tonight.  I did this even though I knew I’d be headed to yoga afterwards.

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In addition to my post-run stretch, I’ve been going to Massage Envy a couple of times per week for assisted stretch.  Not only is this helping loosen up my legs for running, but it’s helping my yoga practice as well.  While I enjoy a good massage, the assisted stretch sessions have yielded much better results.   Unfortunately, neither my yoga teacher or massage therapist can help with the huge bruise I got on right thigh at paint ball.   I’m pretty sure that bruise is going to be around for a long time.    I’d post a picture, but it’s borderline indecent.

Tonight’s song performed by Michael Buble is “Feeling Good.”

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as you had hoped.  Ours started early, but thankfully not too early.  The Mayor woke us up shortly before 8:00, which is a lot later than it used to be. Back in the day, the boys would wake us up well before 7:00 am.  My friends and family know how little I enjoy waking up early, so the super early Christmas wake up calls were tough!

Unquestionably, Christmas is much more meaningful as a parent.  Its not that I don’t like getting gifts; its just that giving them is so much better.  In our house, opening gifts happens like a hurricane as the boys tear open their gifts.  This year their Christmas lists were markedly smaller than previous years.  Although they did include some interesting items like: a teacup pig, a puppy, a tegu, a bearded dragon, and a MacBook.  Unfortunately, there was no teacup pig or puppy under the tree this year.

After they opened their gifts, the Hubby and I got to work preparing for brunch.  He made his famous Cholesterol Bake (totally worth every calorie,) while I finished my caramel rolls and started the bacon.   Additionally, we had to get our drink bar ready.  We had plenty of OJ and champagne/asti for mimosas.  Moreover, this year we added a coffee bar, so my bro brought cold brew coffee and we paired it with Bailey’s and/or Ciroc French Vanilla vodka.  To the uninitiated, the coffee (we used Stok) with Bailey’s and vodka is smooth and absolutely sublime.

While I finished cooking the 85 lbs of bacon and rolls, the boys played show and tell with their menagerie.  They were more than happy to share their animals with our guests.  After showing off Lil’ B (our little beardie,) Goalielocks and the Mayor brought down their two chameleons.  Surprisingly, Goalielocks was able to get the normally shy chameleons to eat in front of company.  Of course it’s a bit of a show when the chameleons eat.

Fortunately, all of the food turned out awesome.  Surprisingly, we didn’t end up in a food coma after eating copious amounts of caramel rolls, cholesterol bake and bacon.  Once brunch was done, the boys headed outside to play football.  Unlike Minnesota, which was -5 this morning, we were balmy in the 70s this morning.  For paintball we were in the low 80s, but without too much humidity.

This year we went to paintball a little later with a 1:00 pm start time.  Unlike years past, the paintball place was completely crowded with groups of uninitiated paint  ballers.  We’ve done this for several years on Christmas not to mention the numerous birthday parties the boys have attended.   Nonetheless, I have zero patients for morons who shoot randomly when not on the field or take their masks off on the field.  Darwin would have been proud!

Straightaway, after getting our guns, we headed to the far fields away from the crowds.  We had the far fields to ourselves for over an hour before a couple of the inexperienced and not so bright groups came on over.  Despite the ineptitude of the people around us, we managed to have a good time.

Our group was pretty small, so we stuck to the smaller fields.  We split up the teams a number of different ways to make interesting throughout the day.   The adults took it to the kids several times, but don’t worry they got us back.  Both the Mayor and Goalielocks have their own guns, which are far more powerful than the rental guns.  Both took me out several times from afar.  I didn’t even have a chance since my gun couldn’t shoot that far.

In one round, Jake, Brandi and I played against my brother and my two younger kids.  My brother came running across the field, thinking there was cover (there wasn’t) and all three of us shot him simultaneously.  Whoops!  Thank goodness my brother is a good sport!

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Between rounds, we Face-timed my parents from Paintball and was able to speak to everyone there, which was awesome.  I definitely miss seeing my family and extended family this time of year.  I have many cherished memories that  I have from holidays spent with my grandparents and extended family.  My hope for my boys is they cherish the traditions we’ve started that put a premium on time spent together having fun.

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Post-paintball we headed home and ordered some friend rice and chicken teriyaki.   Tonight we’re going to watch a movie on NetFlix and relax.  Unfortunately, tomorrow is Tuesday and not a holiday meaning most of us will be back at work.  Can you hear the collective boo?  I’ll leave you tonight with my favorite Christmas song.  This song performed by Mariah Carey is “All I Want For Christmas is You.”

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here and almost gone.  Today was hectic and we rushed to finish our last minute shopping and preparations for Christmas day.  I think the boys will be happy with what they’re getting, but we’ll see.  Truthfully, I had hope to spend more money on experiences or even a trip than gifts.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  Its probably a shift that’s easier to make gradually than in one fell swoop.

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In addition to last minute errands, I had (and still have) a lot of baking today.  I made another round of mint cookies today in addition to krumkakes and toffee candies.  Fortunately, all three of the items turned out really good.  As I write this, I’m starting to make the main star of tomorrow’s brunch — the caramel rolls.  Ah yes, no less than 1,000,000 grams of carbs and sugar in these beauties, but they’re completely worth it.   Honestly, all calories on Christmas should be free, I think Santa would totally agree.

Krumkakes are a traditional Norwegian cookie that I was excited to try making this year.  After all, I have both cloud berry and blueberry jam from Norway to pair with the cookie, so now is the perfect time.  In order to bake said cookies, however, I had to order a krumkake iron.  I opted for a new school plug and play model versus the old school iron you heat up over a burner.  I think we can all agree that nothing good would come from me using an old school iron.

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The dough is quite simple to make.  You can use either vanilla or almond extract to flavor the cookie  Today I used vanilla as that is what I had on hand.  Once the dough has been mixed up, you bake one cookie at a time on the iron.  These cookies cook quite quickly albeit individually.  Moreover, once they come of the iron, you need to shape them around the cone to get their famed conical shape.

My first attempt at shaping a krumkake was lackluster, but I had also overcooked the cookie.  After the first couple of cookies, I got the process down pat.  You can definitely bake these cookies by yourself.  However, it would be easier to an assistant help shape the cookies once they come off the iron.

After all the baking, we headed to my brother’s house for some games, movies and appetizers.  Before though I had to make a pit stop at Walgreen’s for some whipped cream and dollar bills.  I had no cash on me and we needed singles, so we could play Left Right Center at Jon’s.  You can only imagine the look the clerk gave me when I asked for my change ($20) is singles, but I digress.

We quickly ate our appetizers once we got to Jon’s, so we could start playing Left Right Center.  Goalielocks didn’t want to spend any money (even though I was funding), so he manned the music tonight.  Per usual, the game was not mild.  Both the Mayor and Jake ended up winning two games, while both Brandi and I won a game.  Throughout the games, the Mayor was full of witty one-liners.

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Once the money dried up, it was time for krumkakes.  I served them with whipped cream and either blueberry or cloud berry jam.  They were absolutely heavenly.  Moreover, I forgotten how much I loved the Norwegian jam.  I have yet to find either cloud berry jam or a good blueberry jam stateside.  When my family goes in January, I hope they bring some more back for us. Hint, hint…..

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Now it’s off to finish wrapping presents and baking caramel rolls.  Tonight’s song performed by Mariah Carey  is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Come Fly With Me

Come fly with me, no seriously, you’ve gotta try aerial yoga at least once.  Now that I’ve have several classes under my belt, I’m starting to feel much more comfortable in the silk.  After an rousing hockey game last night and kick arse circuit burn class this morning, aerial yoga with Monica was the perfect way to decompress mentally and physically.   Additionally, the communal atmosphere of the class is awesome.  Everyone is supportive, eager to try new things and happy to cheer others on.

I know you’re wondering, what’s so awesome about aerial yoga. So let me tell you.  First, aerial yoga is great for your back.  While you’re in the inversions, your spine is able to decompress and there’s minimal strain on your back.  If you’ve got back problems, an aerial yoga practice may provide relief.

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Since the silk supports you in the inversions, you’re able to get into inversions, like handstands, and hold them much longer.  Consequently, you build not only strength, but also muscle memory for the poses.  This will translate into your mat practice.   Moreover, there are parts of the aerial practice that are nearly identical to TRX.  You’re able to use your own weight as resistance to build strength and flexibility.

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Thankfully, I was able to decompress both my mind and my spine this morning otherwise I would have lost my mine at the mall.   The Hubby and I are way behind the eight ball when it comes to Christmas shopping.  Although to be fair, the boys just posted their Christmas wishlists on the fridge yesterday.  Consequently, I headed to Kohl’s to find a present, but left empty handed.  I could not believe how picked over the shelves were. Since Kohl’s didn’t have what I needed, we headed to Macy’s and Dick’s.

What should have been a five minute ride took nearly 20 in the snowbird laden mall traffic. Ugh, Christmas shopping is bad enough, but throw in winter traffic and it is insufferable.  We ran in to Dick’s first, but again came out empty handed.  Afterwards we made our way to Macy’s, were we finally found what we needed to buy.  Unfortunately, we spent more time trying to exit the mall parking lot than we spent in Kohl’s.  Road rules and traffic regulations are not strong suits of Florida drivers.

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Later the Mayor and I went to Target, so he could by his brothers some presents.  Fortunately, Target was better stocked and well staffed.  We were able to get our groceries, the presents and check out in less than an hour. This was amazing especially considering we made a detour to Starbucks as we shopped.

Tomorrow we’ll finish out last minute shopping after aerial yoga and then head to my brother’s tomorrow evening.  Of course, we’ll have to wrap all the presents and start preparing the dishes for Christmas brunch.  My family looks forward to Christmas brunch as its usually the only time I make caramel rolls.  You may recall that for hurricane Irma I made an exception.  Unfortunately, we were house bound so we couldn’t work off the calories.  Consequently, Jake and I are already planning a long run Christmas Day to counteract the thousands of calories and carbs we’ll consume at brunch.

Tonight’s song performed by the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra is “Come Fly With Me.” This song is one of my absolute favorites.  Enjoy!

Winter Solstice

It’s the winter solstice today, well at least it was at 11:28 am this morning.  The shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere is also the harbinger of longer days to come.  Unequivocally, I hated the short days of a Minnesota winter.  There’s nothing more depressing than a sunset at 4:30 pm.

Here in Florida, the sunset was around 5:30 pm tonight and was gorgeous.   If it weren’t for the horribly short days, you would hardly know it is winter here. Piggie and I were out on our run enjoying the beautiful weather.  As we pushed to mile 3, Piggie recoiled with fright into my left knee.   My left leg is a veritable disaster with hip flexors and a IT band so tight if it snapped, it would poke your eye out.  What was the monster that frightened her so?  Perhaps another animal or a loud car?  Oh no, my Piggie was afraid of the orange cone.  If I wasn’t so out of breath, I would have ended up on the ground in a laughing fit.

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As you’ve probably gathered from reading my recent blog posts, things have been a bit stressful in our household.  It’s not always amazing to own your own business, but that’s the price you pay for autonomy.  In addition, we had a health scare with one of our boys, so we ended up at a specialists office this afternoon. Fortunately, his bladder and kidney looked good on the ultrasounds.  This gave him quick relief as he was worried they’d find something in his organs.

Nevertheless, he will have to undergo an outpatient surgery in early 2018.  This should be quite simple and result in minimal downtime.  However, if anything is discovered during the procedure it could result in a more protracted and complicated recovery.  Here’s hoping for an uneventful procedure and a miraculous (quick and uncomplicated) recovery.

Speaking of miracles, I’ll need to start and finish my Christmas shopping (food included) in the span of 72 hours.  Unfortunately, this means online shopping isn’t going to work.  Well, unless I want to spend $250 for Saturday shipping, which I don’t as that’s ridiculous.  Wish me luck as I hit the stores with the snow birds and all the glorious people South Florida has to offer.

Tonight’s song, performed by one of our hockey sister’s Julia and her classmate, is “The Prayer.”

 

 

Holiday Stress

I’m sure we can all relate to the pressures of holiday stress.  At this time in the year, the stress level is maxed out as we hurriedly try to finish our holiday preparations.  When you’re a small business owner, you can amp that stress level up 100X as you wait for contractors to act on invoices sent over a month ago.  While they’re are definitely benefits to owning your own business, the added stress is not one of them.

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I’ve written about missing home before, but some times in the course of doing business I really, truly miss the Northland.  It would be unthinkable up north for a reputable contractor to sit on invoices for over a month.  Whereas, here in S. Florida it is completely normal for a contractor to pay invoices on island time.  Admittedly, I’m new to this business and my hubby assures me this is normal, but I want to fucking throat punch this guy right now.

Anyway, rant over because that’s not what this post is about.  Believe it or not this post is about ways you can reduce your holiday stress.  Here are some of my favorite coping mechanisms:

  1. Run –  Runner’s high is real and it is amazing.  The world is a better place after a good long run.  f0c4c054288a64ccf399c4ef4b13cbf2--runners-quotes-funny-motivational-quotes-for-working-out
  2. Meet me at the mat!  There’s nothing like a good Vinyasa class to remove your from life’s craziness and put you in the moment.
  3. Come fly with me….  If you’re not inclined to hop on a mat and namaste, then come fly with me at Aerial yoga.
  4. Bake some holiday treats with your loved ones or friends.  If your family is anything like my boys, make sure they don’t steal any cookies from the cookie sheet.  FL Christmas 2006 487
  5. Spend time with good friends  24883571_10155106304447371_1492472535565284382_o
  6. Enjoy a nice drink (i.e. Ciroc and vodka.)  See 5.  tenor (2).gif
  7. Pay it forward.  There’s nothing more rewarding than helping those that are less fortunate.  IMG_1144
  8. Hang out with your four legged friends.  I love chilling with my puppies!  IMG_1291
  9. Spend time doing the things you love with the people you love.  There’s nothing I love more than watching my boys (even the big one) play hockey.  I was in hog heaven last night as three of the four took to the ice.

    Monday Night Mayhem
    Monday Night Mayhem
  10.   Drink more Dunkin’!  Just think soon it won’t just be coffee I’m talking about it will be beer too!

I hope my list of tricks and tools to alleviate the holiday stress was helpful to you.  Obviously, if you’re not in to running or yoga, you suck.. I’m only kidding.  In all seriousness, if they’re not your poison, make time for your favorite workout.  It will do you a world of good!

Tonight’s song is “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”