Category Archives: Columns

Non-Traditional “Pumpkin Pie” Recipe

We love this “non-traditional” Frozen Butter Pecan Pumpkin Pie recipe from www.blessedbeyondcrazy.com! Give it a try and let us know what you think!

1 quart butter pecan ice cream, softened
1 (9 inch) store purchased Oreo pie crust
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
Dollop of whipped topping

Spread ice cream into the Oreo crust; freeze for 2 hours or until firm. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Fold in whipped cream. Spread over ice cream. Cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before slicing. Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping and chocolate syrup. Add dollop of whipped cream. (May be frozen for up to 2 months.)

Back to the Basics

At various points during the day, I check Facebook and my email like many of you— my feed flooded with products and programs promising happiness and fulfillment, for a price. The thing is— whether your happiness is temporarily increased by clothes, electronics, or fast food— the high is soon over. It is followed by the heavy burden of guilt over purchasing something you didn’t actually need or the feeling of pure exhaustion after a grease-covered meal.

If you want to take control over subtle influences in your daily routine (and live life just a little lighter) consider the following options:

  1. Live below your means.

    Coupon queens everywhere are about to really hate me, but understand that I do mean well. Stocking up on items you will definitely use with coupons is a fantastic idea— as long as you really do use them. Otherwise you end up with a large amount of food you have to throw out because it expired, and the money you thought you saved becomes money you could have put towards existing debt or a vacation.

    Do some research on minimalism and see what parts of it you can apply to your own life. Minimalism gives less power to the objects that surround us— but it doesn’t take away the meaning of the important things in our lives. Instead, it allows us to consciously choose what is important and why without being bogged down by meaningless objects that hurt our health, relationships, and hold us back from reaching our full potential. Visit www.theminimalists.com to see if you can benefit from any of their suggestions and tailor them to fit your needs!

    Donate items that you don’t use to people who really need them. The obvious choice is Goodwill, but you can also post free items on websites like www.freecycle.org. They have a specific section for Roanoke already, so it is as easy as going on their site, creating an account, and posting what you have to give away.

2. Take charge of your diet.

Organize your kitchen to encourage your family to spend more time cooking, cleaning, and eating healthy. Place items in drawers where they will be convenient to reach when you need them and get rid of extra dishes, cups, and utensils that no longer serve a purpose. When you have more space, your kitchen looks clean and welcoming after a long day of work or running errands. You may even look forward to getting there and spending time with your family rather than waiting in line at McDonalds to pick up dinner.

While we are talking about fast food, it is also important that you try to spend your food budget wisely. Make a list of things you need before you go grocery shopping and stick to that list. We have fallen into a habit in which we place very high value on convenience. Therefore, if it is on an end cap and on sale, we are far more likely to add $3 here and $5 there to our basket without thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, many of those products are not healthy and can include chemicals and preservatives that leave you hungry, tired, and even sick. Commit to the list— accounting for every meal during the week. You’ll save money AND feel better at the end of the day.

61VWkE9iEPL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_Consider growing your own fruits and vegetables— it’s possible, even in the city! Look into making some of the staples in your pantry by yourself. With a little practice, you can make your own cheese for 1/3 of the store price and bake your own bread for about fifty cents per loaf. No matter how committed you are to the idea of sustainable living, Woman-Powered Farm by Audrey Levatino is a great book to add to your library. From teaching you the basics on raised garden beds and farm animals to operating farm machinery, it is perfect for the woman who wants to become more self-sufficient.

3. Reorganize your schedule

Completely banning electronics from your house is unreasonable, but cutting down on your TV time and opening a book is better for your brain. Get out of the house with your family, or on your own, and hike one of our area’s beautiful trails. See the world around you without a camera phone lens. Choose activities that will inspire you to be a healthier, happier version of yourself. Very often, happiness is just outside of your comfort zone.

Make time for energy-saving activities like hanging clothes on a line or chopping wood for a wood stove this winter. Not only will you stay active, but you will save money on your electric bills. If these ideas are too extreme for you, ease yourself into it. Bike to work or carpool if you can, keep those lights turned off, and set the temperature in your house to a comfortable but reasonable number. Little changes now can make a huge difference over time.

Choose any of these suggestions and tweak them to apply to your circumstances. At the very least, you may find that it is easier to identify the subtle influences that challenge your happiness and follow your own path instead.

A Guide to Last Minute Traveling

UnknownIf you’re anything like us, you probably like to begin planning for trips and vacations at least a few weeks ahead of time. But sometimes things pop up and you need to make travel arrangements quickly and cheaply. There is no need to panic if you are unable to peruse your favorite travel sites for the best deal. Your smart phone has the potential to help you plan your entire trip in less than fifteen minutes. There are many different travel apps that you can download to make things easier. Here are a couple of our favorite free ones:

mzl.xbhlyiabHotel Tonight: Finding a hotel last minute can be a hassle. You know what you want, and the price you need, but eliminating those that are completely booked can make this task seem impossible. Fortunately, Hotel Tonight helps you find a hotel where you want at a price that works. You can book for up to one week ahead and reserve your room for one week at the most—giving you a little extra time to look for additional options if you will be staying in one location for a while. The app tells you when there are only a few rooms left at a hotel, and won’t show you any that have no vacancies. They also have a nice little classification system. Hotels are ranked as “crash pads, basic, solid, charming, hip, luxe, or high rollers.”

6284824fa2dc70a3c213aa175a4ae0c6Couchsurfing: If you’re a more laid back and adventurous person you might want to try the Couchsurfing app. On Couchsurfing, you can look for people who have opened up their homes to travelers or you can open up your own couch for visitors. Couchsurfing is free; it is about meeting people and exploring the world, not making money. So it’s great if you need to travel but are strapped for cash!

There are many more travel apps out there. The best way to find one to fit your needs is to experiment with a few of them. You may also want to try Travelzoo, LMT Deals, and Tripit. Some of them can help you secure airfare, transportation, AND accommodations. Others have fun day planning and excursion features.

Unexpected detours or obstacles can make traveling a hassle, even if you are an excellent planner. So relax, pull out your smart phone, and let these apps take care of everything for you!

Written by Krista Knauer

A Vacation in Virginia

Still trying to think of a last minute way to relax over one of your long weekends this summer? Fortunately, you do not have to venture outside of the state to relax and unwind. The perfect weekend getaway can be had at one of Virginia’s amazing resorts nestled in the heart of our iconic mountain landscape.

The Homestead luxury resort is perfect for couples OR families. Beckoning from Hot Springs, Virginia, the destination offers many opportunities to unwind and bond with those you care about most. For the more active adventurer, choose between horseback riding, falconry, and paint ball. If you would rather spend the time relaxing, enjoy spa services or a day by the pool. Sprinkle in one (or several) farm-to-table approach meals at one of the resort’s restaurants.

There are many formal dining options available for guests. One of our favorites is the Main Dining Room. They offer delicacies like Virginia grass-fed beef, Allegheny mountain trout, and Chesapeake crab.

For the active family, “Downtime” is a great place to enjoy a meal while taking in amenities such as mini bowling, pool tables, shuffleboard, air hockey, arcade games, and more!

Finally, for the nature lovers, two major hot springs flow through the property and are available to enjoy during your stay. One thing is certain, you won’t get bored on a vacation to The Homestead! Visit www.omnihotels.com for more information and to book your room today.

The Primland is another one of our favorite getaways. Their gorgeous rooms and spa services would be enough to inspire us to book a room there for the weekend (or longer!), but there are so many additional reasons you should visit. Primland is committed to being environmentally respectful, and their natural surroundings are a reflection of that commitment. Enjoy scenery that could include whitetail deer, wild turkeys, rainbow trout, songbirds of all varieties, and beautiful wild flowers.

The resort is also famous for its stargazing opportunities. Study planets, nebulae, and celestial objects in their Observatory Dome. Telescope and dome presentations can be scheduled during your stay by resident astronomers as weather conditions allow.

When you aren’t stargazing, take advantage of other amenities including golf, nature walks, mountain biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, or ATV trail riding. Mabry Mill and Fairy Stone Park are also close by and worth a visit.

vacation2Regardless of your itinerary, don’t miss out on the variety of dining options available. Each venue uses seasonal fresh farm products to create their dishes. On June 20, you can register for Primland Cooking School and watch Chef Gunnar Thompson demonstrate how to create healthful dishes showcasing a natural abundance of the freshest local ingredients. Go to www.primland.com to learn more about this destination.

Massanutten is a great place to escape with the family. A short two hour drive to Harrisonburg, Virginia, it is a relaxing place for parents and a vacation the kids will not forget. Featuring a spa that offers manicures, pedicures, massages, skin care, waxing and tinting, the resort offers many opportunities for adults to spoil themselves throughout their stay!

If spas are not your cup of tea, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy from mountain biking and horseback riding to disc golf, zip line experiences, and river adventures. There is even a full service bike shop on site where you can rent, purchase, or repair a bike before your big adventure.

An awesome waterpark awaits children of all ages (mom and dad, this means you too!). There is something for EVERY water lover in this park— tube slides, body slides, water falls, pools of varying depths, and a Pipeline where guests can learn to surf!

We couldn’t mention Massanutten without talking about the food. They partner with local farms like Creekside Angus and Mountain View to supply fresh beef and artisanal cheeses. Their chicken is sourced from Broadway, Virginia, and their seafood is fresh from Virginia’s famed saltwater rivers. With several dining options using local and regional ingredients, it is nearly impossible to go hungry!

Go to www.massresort.com for more information on activities, upcoming events, and making reservations.

Ten Days of Mom: Just Dance 5 Class Pass!

Ten Days of Mom: DAY TEN!!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there! Biological, adopted, and everything in between– to the women who have inspired us, taken care of us, and helped us grow over the years, we are eternally grateful. One day really doesn’t seem like enough.

In recognition of all the the evenings you spend on your feet cooking dinner after a long day at work, the chaotic grocery store (mis)adventures, and oh so much more… we have one final prize for one more lucky mom– five free classes from Just Dance Roanoke!

The winner will receive a pass for five classes– and maybe discover a new hobby that will keep her having fun all summer long!

Visit our Facebook page for details on how to win! And, hey, Happy Mother’s Day!

Ten Days of Mom: Free Night at Early Inn!

Ten Days of Mom: DAY NINE!!!

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Today, the Early Inn is giving away a one night stay to one lucky reader and a guest! A beautiful, historic Greek revival style manor, it serves as a bed and breakfast in the charming small town of Rocky Mount, Virginia.

The Inn is located within convenient walking distance to many local attractions, but surrounded by beautiful scenic property that provides a peaceful, relaxing country setting. This is a great way to treat the busy mom in your life to a memorable local getaway!

We are also throwing in a really cool coffee mug from Wordologies and two awesome books that are great gifts to show mom how much she means to you! Visit our Facebook page for details on how to enter! Good luck!

 

Ten Days of Mom: Microdermabrasion Service!

Ten Days of Mom: DAY SEVEN!!!!!!!

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Alouf Aesthetics of Salem is giving away a microdermabrasion service (valued at $135) to one lucky reader!

This is a great gift for mom– an exfoliation that delivers changes both above and below the skin surface and promotes long term skin health. Microdermabrasion is used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, acne, pigmentation changes and sun damaged skin– this will be a highly coveted prize as we head into summer!!!

Visit our Facebook page for details on how to win! Good luck!

Ten Days of Mom: Baylee’s Best Chocolates Gift Basket!

Ten Days of Mom: DAY SIX!!!

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CHOCOLATE!! Enter to win a delicious gift basket from Baylee’s Best Chocolates! All of their chocolates are handmade at their shop in Roanoke’s West Village– and chocolate is the PERFECT way to show mom you care on Mother’s Day!

Visit our Facebook page for details on how to win!