Here’s a Friday Five that will get you heading toward the weekend with a smile on your face!
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I have the perfect combination for you! Doctors have been telling us for years how stress can cause all sorts of bad stuff – health issues, emotional issues, psychological issues. Finding ways to diffuse stress is a million-dollar business (squeezy ball anybody?). But worth it, right? Because less stress equals a happier, healthier us. But you don’t have to spend big bucks to get big relief from too much stress. Studies show that thinking about positive memories can have the stress-reducing effect that many of us are in need of. So here’s that perfect combo I promised you: take a little a stress-reducing trip down memory lane with one of these nostalgic stress busters. Bonus: each one costs under five dollars!
2. Silly Putty. Yes – it’s still around! Remember how it works? We used to press it on to comics, then roll it off and the comic image would transfer to the putty – just waiting to be stretched and distorted. Newspaper ink doesn’t lift like it used to, but pencil lead still does. Grab a pencil and make a list of those stress-inducing aggravations. Roll your putty over them. Then stretch them until they are unrecognizable and do a final blot-out by squishing the mass into a ball. Now smooth out your not-so-silly-putty and return it to its egg until it’s time to take on the next stresser! (Under $2)
3. Jacks. The perfect rhythm-building distraction. For a more authentic youthful experience, sit on the floor, legs crossed in the universal kid-sit way. For those of us who might never be able to get back up from such a position, a desk top works just fine for the bounce, scoop, bounce, scoop-more stress-busting activity! (Under $5 for the metal ones – even less for plastic)
4. Paper airplane. Fly your worries away! Write down those irksome issues that are causing you anxiety on a nice cool piece of paper. Take a trip back in time and fold up your paper, creating a calming rhythm as you smooth your creases, creating your paper-problem-navigator. Once you have that nose nice and pointy, sail your problems into the closest wall for a satisfying crunch. For the grand finale? Sail your plane into a bucket or sink full of water and watch the problems literally breakdown. Now, doesn’t that feel good? (Free!)
5. Play-Doh. Craft some shapes that represent your time-wasting worries. Got them all lined up and ready for destruction? Now aggressively flatten each one with a hand, rolling pin, or (remember Mr. Bill?) your car. When those Play-Doh stressers see you coming at them, full speed ahead, they’ll say:
“Getting Fierce” doesn’t mean “total deprivation.” It’s about being strong – being our best. And sometimes our best us needs a little splurge. Let me be clear: this isn’t about health food. I’m not going to tell you about something wonderful and follow that with how you should cut out some of the good stuff from it to make it “better.” I’m not going to talk about carbs, calories, or sugar counts. Nope – we’re just talking about that once-in-a-while-I-don’t-care-no-holds-barred SPLURGE. Here are 5 of our summer favorites:
2. Coffee gets cooler. Is that even possible? Yes! With a frosty java option such as Panera’s Frozen Mocha or Starbucks’ Frappuccino. The latter offers a mini-version for those who are just wanting to dip a toe in the splurge waters; you know – kind of a splurge-lite!
3. Fair Food. I’m always on the lookout for a good Strawberry Newport. Custard on a flaky pastry bed, robed with fresh sweetened strawberries, and topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. If there’s no fair in sight, my quick at-home version not only works, it makes a great company desert! The ingredients are (1) puff pastry (thawed and cut in rectangles) (2) sweetened strawberries (we often stir in a little amaretto or raspberry liquor for an adult version) (3) French Vanilla Instant Pudding (use a little less milk than called for so it’s thicker) and whipped cream. Cook your puff pastry per box directions, and split in half when cool. Just before serving: spoon in the pudding, ladel on your strawberries, and blast with whipped cream. Mmmmmm!
4. Time travel. Delicious summer treat meets blast-from-the-past with a root beer float. But not just any root beer will do here. For a true taste of yesteryear, we need the vanilla notes of A&W’s draft root beer. Add some creamy vanilla ice cream for the perfect marriage!
5. A little adult time. You don’t have to be poolside to put a tropical twist on a hot summer day. Swap out the lemonade for a fruity cocktail that will cool you down – kind of like an adult Slurpy. But make sure you avoid the adult-size brain-freeze that can come with it if you drink it too fast! Click HERE or on the picture for some fun recipes from Serious Eats – with options from the basic (frozen gin and tonic) to more the exotic (frozen Mezcal Paloma, anyone?) there’s something for everybody!
We have been absolutely remiss! Can’t believe it’s been almost five months since we sent you into the weekend with a few chuckles. Well, to make up for that we’ll add a couple of extra smile this go-round. For today’s Friday Five we’ve plucked seven of our favorite Facebook posts from the past few month that are sure to send you into the weekend with a smile on your face!
If you want to catch up on Friday Five Funnies you may have missed, here are the links for the first four:
I love Mother’s Day! Each year I treat a group of moms to a special meal and a bit of fussing over.
When I began this event 15 years ago, it was just for my mom, two aunts, and a dear friend, all of whom lived in the neighborhood. My cousins and my friend’s son lived out-of-state, so I filled in the gap. Then I began inviting other ladies whose children lived away, and now the annual number of guests is 8-10, ages 60+ to 90-something. I usually try out new recipes for the occasion, and I make sure there are options for everyone’s individual dietary needs. But my favorite thing to do is to provide some kind of inexpensive party favors, so they can take a bit of the fun home with them! Following are some of the fun finds that put a smile on my guests’ faces!
Early on, when the number of guests began growing, I bought shelf-sitters from a home décor catalog. A set of six was about $15, or $2.50 per guest. One year they were all fruit-related; another year they were different flowers.
Then shelf-sitters disappeared from the catalog,* so I began haunting dollar stores. One year I bought little glass vases for $1 each, and put a bloom in each one. There was the year of miniscule tea pots, the year of faux ceramic baskets of flowers, the year of faux tulip and daffodil planters.
One year I filled little gift bags with travel sized hand creams, tissues, and lip balms. Another time I gave each lady a small jar of artisan jam.
Two years ago, I made homemade linen spray, which I put into colorful dollar store spray bottles that also served as place markers. (Mom still requests refills when hers runs out!) And last year each guest got a flat plastic vase filled with tiny marbles and water. The marbles inflated to help keep the vases stable when flowers are added; they made the table look quite festive!
It’s an enjoyable challenge to come up with a new idea every year! Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s…
*A variety of shelf-sitters can still be found on-line from different distributors.
Guest blogger Natine Abreu-Shaw is a recalibrated woman of the Sandwich Generation, who enjoys writing and occasionally mines her mind, flexes her fingers, and publishes her pith at Write-MindedWoman.com – when she is able to take a break from some of her other pet (pun intended!) projects – such as writing as the persona of her fur-kids at their Facebook home Corgi Characters!
If knowing the weekend is right around the corner isn’t enough of a reason to put a smile on your face, let us give you five more reasons! We picked 5 favorites from our Facebook page to send you into the weekend with a chuckle!
If you want to catch up on Friday Five Funnies you may have missed, here are the links for the first three:
A healthy-hot breakfast and crazy-busy schedule are no longer incompatible concepts. Fast food chains have heard the cry of the multitudes and there are more options available than ever before to eat well – even when you’re in a hurry. So if you don’t have the time, or the ingredients, to put together something warm and tasty before you head out the door, here are 5 breakfasts to try from one of the fast-food chains you pass on your way to your busy day. Click on the pictures for the nutrition details.
1. Starbucks – it’s not just for coffee anymore. Skip the sugary beverages and filler-up with the Egg and Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich. A whole-wheat English muffin with egg and cheese satisfies for about 280 calories. Add a plain cup of coffee or tea and breakfast is served!
2. Fast doesn’t have to equal sandwich. McDonald’s offers Fruit & Maple Oatmeal. Ordered without the brown sugar, it’s still sweet from the fresh and dried fruits as well as the light cream. It’s a great vegetarian option!
3. Coffee and no donuts. But you won’t feel deprived with Dunkin’ Donut’s Egg White and Cheese Wake-up Wrap. Amp it up with an iced Caramel Latte Lite on the side and you’re still under 360 calories! The wrap is just one of the under-400 calorie options on the new DD Smart menu.
4. Get your sweet on. If you’re looking for something sweet without breaking the calorie bank, try the French Toast Sticks at Burger King. With it’s 1-oz syrup mate it comes in at about 350 calories and a surprisingly low (275mg) sodium count.
5. If you have a bit more time, Panera has some good choices. An interesting 300-calorie option is the Almond Quinoa Oatmeal. Steel-cut oats are topped with quinoa, honey, cinnamon and the satisfying crunch of toasted almond slices.
Whether you lost track of time or you just added a new Valentine-recipient to your list, you are not stuck with sugary snacks or overpriced flowers as gift options. It doesn’t matter if your Valentine is 5 or 50, there’s a little something on this no-eat sweet treat list that you still have time to get!
2. Conversation Heart Pillow. The one pictured was found online (click picture for site), but variations can be found at Barnes and Noble, Target, Claire’s, and Nordstroms.
3. Cupcakes that serve a purpose. Memo pads, sticky notes, and notepads come in a variety of cupcake options that are perfect for some sweet notes! Shop party supply stores, dollar stores, toy stores and big box stores. While you’re at the party store, pick up a bag of Valentine pencils. Gift alone, add a few to accompany your memo pad offering, or divide into ribbon-tied bundles to be presented to multiple Valentines.
4. Sweet socks. Not to be confused with “sweat socks.” The pictured trio is from Kohls.
5. Soaps that look good enough to eat. You can find delicious-looking soaps in stores that sell bath and kitchen supplies, but if you’re feeling crafty, check out this video to whip up your own batch of not-to-eat sweet treats!
Looking for a festive addition to your holiday buffet that offers a tasty alternative to sugar-laden treats? Here are 5 colorful options that are fast, festive and easy on the calories. Presenting: EDIBLE CHRISTMAS TREES!
The kiwi tree comes complete with ornaments – with very little assembly required!
If you want a little more drama, start with a styrofoam cone and some toothpicks to have your tree go vertical. Berries, melons, kiwis – plenty of fruit options to make your own masterpiece!
For those impromptu gatherings, you probably have the ingredients for a vegetable tree in your fridge already. Sliced pepper stems, cauliflower tree lights, broccoli floret greens all make great substitutions for the cucumber/carrot/tomato version shown. While a click on the picture gets you to the site it originated from, I couldn’t find the specific link for this tree. I suspect you’ll be okay on this one without specific instructions!
Does it get easier than a one-fruit tree that’s naturally decorated in Christmas colors?? Click on the picture for Eating Vibrantly’s suggestion on attaching the “tree trunk.”
These pita trees are a great choice for an appetizer to contribute to the office party or family potluck. You will arrive knowing that no matter what is on the buffet, you have a great choice to snack on. They look artful and the recipe is an easy mix of seasoning, fat-free sour cream and guacamole. This substantive finger-food is a calorie bargain at only 30 per tree!
It’s Friday!!! Best way to celebrate is with some humor! (Maybe we should change this to Monday Morning Mood Makers!!). Any who – enjoy the following Friday Funnies – in no particular order.
We feel you are now sufficiently (and possibly inappropriately) armed and dangerous and ready to enjoy the weekend (like that never happens!).