Tag Archives: holiday

Managing Your Blood Pressure

Managing blood pressure can be difficult, especially during the holidays and winter months. A change in routine, family visits, traveling, illness, holiday menus and financial concerns can all conspire to derail your best efforts at keeping chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, under control.

If you are one of the millions of American adults with high blood pressure, it is vital to keep your blood pressure stable. Drastic changes can put you at risk for heart attack or stroke.

Here are three ways to control your blood pressure throughout the holiday season from the American Heart Association:

Be wary of decongestants
Decongestants are in many over-the-counter cold and flu medications, but they have some harmful side effects. They can raise blood pressure and decrease the effectiveness of some prescribed blood pressure medications. It’s best to use them for the shortest duration possible and avoid in severe or uncontrolled hypertension. Consider alternative therapies, such as nasal saline, intranasal corticosteroids, or antihistamines, as appropriate.

Keep track of medication
The winter months tend to bring an increase in both heart attacks and strokes. According to research from the Journal of the American Heart Association, a 4.2 percent increase in heart-related deaths occurs away from a hospital from December 25 through January 7.

“Factors like cold weather, sudden increase in activity like shoveling snow, stress and dietary indiscretion can contribute to a chain of events leading to more stress on the heart during the winter months, potentially triggering a heart attack or other cardiac event,” says Jorge Plutzky, M.D., director of Preventive Cardiology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

It is vital to keep track of your medication and take it as prescribed by your doctor to decrease chances of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association’s Check Change Control Tracker is one way to monitor your health, as it allows you to set up text message reminders, text in blood pressure readings, connect with volunteers or providers, and receive messages from volunteers or providers.

Maintain healthy eating habits
The holidays can be a bad influence on healthy eating habits. However, it is important to stay active during these times and continue eating healthy. While you are enjoying holiday feasts with family, be aware of sodium, often found in seasonal foods like bread, cheeses and prepared meats, which can increase blood pressure. Don’t feel like you can’t indulge a little, but make sure to incorporate healthy meals.

Staying active while traveling can also be a challenge. Try bringing simple exercise equipment like a jump rope or resistance band with you. Consider walking to sights or restaurants nearby, or finding a local park or indoor walking path.

For more information and tools about blood pressure management, visit heart.org/hbp.

Bayer’s Consumer Health Division, maker of Coricidin HBP, is a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure website.

 

Holiday Stocking Stuffers!

The holidays are right around the corner, which means you’ve already begun the stress of finding gifts for your loved ones. If you’re like me, diving into the stockings on Christmas morning is one of your favorite holiday activities. Here are some new ideas for gifts to add to your list of stocking stuffers for the adults in your life!

For Her:

  • TonyMoly I’m Real Mask Sheet Bundle: Get her a week’s worth of TonyMoly face masks this Christmas. From skin brightening to pore care, this fan-favorite skincare brand has 11 different face masks for you to choose from!
  • Tile Style Pro Series: If she’s like me, she’s always losing her phone! That also means she’ll love this gift. This small and sleek-looking Tile gadget will help her find her phone wherever she’s left it. Simply double tap the Tile and their phone will ring, even when it’s on silent!
  • Eos: A gift that every woman loves? Chapstick. We just can’t get enough of it! Throw some Eos in her stocking this Christmas that will leave her lips feeling healthy and smooth with the added vitamin E.
  • Burts Bees Everyday Beauty Essential Kit: Everyone loves Burt’s Bees, and this set contains five of their most popular beauty products in the cutest travel sizes. Pamper your whole body with their Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream, Hand Salve, Milk and Honey Body Lotion, classic Beeswax Lip Balm, and Coconut Foot Cream.
  • Invisibobble Hair Tie: This revolutionary hair tool will put an end to all the challenges she’s ever had tying up her hair. Invisibobble hair ties will take the pressure off her ponytail with these hair caring, no split end, stretchy hair ties that won’t leave a single crease in their hair.

For Him:

  • Anker Phone Charger: Keep his phone charged with this Anker charger that will power up his phone four times faster than it would at any computer USB port. When at full capacity, the Anker charger can give his phone up to two complete charges.
  • Harry’s Razors Winston Set: Give him the gift of a Christmas shave. Complete with a comfortable die-cast zinc and polished chrome body, a set of two extra blades, shaving cream, and a protective case, this shaving kit can be made even more personal with his engraved initials.
  • Duke Cannon Big American Bourbon Soap: Taking a shower will be his new favorite activity with this Buffalo Trace bourbon-infused soap that’ll leave anyone wondering where you found this!
  • American Crew Forming Cream: One of the best brands in men’s haircare, this Crew Forming Cream helps hair appear thicker while providing hold, pliability, and shine.

Written by Taylor Ward

 

Meet Renée Hamilton of SWVA Ballet!

Southwest Virginia Ballet’s new executive director, Renée Hamilton, has been passionate about dance since she was a child. She began dancing very young, in elementary school, and continued dancing in different areas with a focus in ballet well into high school in Winchester, Virginia. Both in college and after graduation, she continued taking classes and remaining active on a voluntary basis.
After spending time in Arkansas, Renée moved back to the east coast and connected with Southwest Virginia Ballet. From the moment she met Karen and Pedro, she knew it would be a good fit for her.
Now, with the Southwest Virginia Ballet’s 22nd production of the Nutcracker approaching, her connection is accompanied by nostalgia.
“The Nutcracker was the first performance I was ever in as a child. I played Clara, and my parents danced in the Nutcracker alongside me. It’s something that naturally brings back childhood memories every Christmas, and makes it magical from the beginning of the season all the way through,” says Renée.
Artistic director, Pedro Szalay, is dedicated to adding something new every year in order to keep the performance fresh and new. Audiences who attend annually are often excited to see what changes he has made to costumes and choreography.
“The other fun part is watching kids in the company and community members grow and change throughout. These are exceedingly well-trained, passionate, artistic kids,” adds Renée.
In addition to supporting the participating young dancers, Southwest Virginia Ballet has a mission to give back to clients of human service organizations. If someone is going through a difficult time, and would have their holiday made better by attending a Nutcracker performance, their therapist or contact person can contact the office and say they are interested in receiving tickets for their client.
If you’d like to be part of this great organization and work with talented creatives like Pedro and Renée, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities!
“You don’t have to have a dance background to get involved. We will not turn away volunteers. We need people who sew, hair stylists, or any people who would like to get involved. We can look for a good match for their interests!” explains Renée.
Learn more about the Southwest Virginia Ballet (and Renée!) by attending events like their Nutcracker Gala on November 18 at the Shenandoah Club. There, you can also participate in an auction of locally handcrafted painted nutcrackers and other treasures! Additional events include Readings with Clara and the SugarPlum Fairy at local libraries through November and December. Of course, we can’t forget The Nutcracker performances at the Berglund Performing Arts Center on Saturday, December 9, at 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday, December 10, at 3 pm.
Visit www.svballet.org for more information and to purchase tickets

 

Photography by McDilda Photography.

VeganVille: The Holiday Blues

I love winter and all its holidays: Three Kings’ Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, you name it (and please do, the more I learn about, the more I can party). Everything is all warm and sparkly and if you knew me you would know I’m nothing if not a giant, crumpled ball of tinfoil, at least emotionally. I can relate to winter holidays.

What I don’t love, however, is that all holiday parties seem to revolve around mother lodes of meat. And I hate to admit it, but even though I’ve been vegan since well before Al Gore invented the internet, there have been times when I have caved and brought meat, at the host’s request, to some shindig or other. As you no doubt can guess, that always turns out badly in the end.

Most recently, for example, I had a boss that I shall call Mistress Congeniality for the purposes of this reminiscence. She asked us, her minions, to attend an optional (not-optional) holiday party/team-building at her house. She said she would provide the vegetable sides and desserts, and assigned the other necessary items to the rest of the celebrants. I was asked to bring a tray of tendons, or at least that’s what I heard her say.

Trusting, gentle tenderfoot that I am, as I roamed the supermarket on the way to the fete, not having eaten all day, I ignored the delicious displays of olives, loaves of artisan bread, freshly-cut trays of crudité, and pint after pint of non-dairy frozen desserts with names like Caramel Calorie Cowabunga and Buttbusting Brownie Deliciousness.

She was providing non-meat food, she said, and, so I bought only what the Minister of Toil told me to bring: something that used to have a face. So after considering the possibilities that were available that wouldn’t gross me out excessively, or involve me having to do any touching or preparation, I grabbed the first grizzled, oil-soaked lump I came across:  something aging in the rotisserie. I’m guessing it was a chicken, but the chickens I know have beautiful feathers. Still attached. Along with their heads.

Anyway, I remember thinking sarcastically as I entered the Bastille that evening that I could always eat my freshly manicured nails if there was nothing else—they were glittery, silver and matched my tiara perfectly.

So when I put my contribution of crud next to everyone else’s unrecognizable piles and lumps, I became mildly alarmed when a quick scan revealed…no crackers, no spreads, no vegetables, no sides, no dessert..WAIT!  I spoke too soon—at the end of the counter was three small dishes that weren’t loaded with ground Buzzard or minced bandicoot: a miniature plate of gherkins, a small bowl of chow chow and a plate of onion and tomato slices. I’d been HAD!

Wow. Not only did Santa NOT give me a present that year, he used my life as a reindeer rest stop and didn’t bother to clean up after the rascals. At least my fingernails were delicious.  And let me reinforce that you don’t team-build very well on an empty stomach.

Happy Merry!

 

Written by Ginger Rail*

 

(*Ginger Rail is the pen name of our favorite vegan writer in Southwest Virginia. She spends her spare time entertaining her friends and family with her hilarious adventures–and now she’s sharing them with us!)

Holiday Happenings!

Traditions are important, and it is never too late to start a new one with your family and friends. There are several very important events happening this holiday season that should be on your calendar if they are not already. And, who knows, you may run in to a Bella girl while you are there!

15230807_10154696474809400_5663766098762608240_nThe Southwest Virginia Ballet will present The Nutcracker on Saturday, December 10 at 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday, December 11 at 3 pm at the Berglund Performing Arts Center. Adapted from “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman, this holiday tradition features a cast of 150 performers that represent over 15 dance school from the Roanoke Valley and beyond with choreography by the incredibly talented Pedro Szalay. Join Clara and the Nutcracker Prince as they battle giant mice, dance with snowflakes, and journey to the Land of the Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy entertains them with exotic dances from around the world. Guests may also purchase tickets to Clara’s Tea Party at the Berglund Performing Arts Theatre on Sunday, December 13 at 1:30 pm. At this special pre-performance event, you will have the opportunity to meet Clara, The Nutcracker, and The Sugar Plum Fairy. Tea, cocoa, and treats will be served. For more information on this event and how to purchase tickets, go to www.svballet.org.

2015-love-light-treeOne of the most important gifts you can give yourself or a grieving family member during the holidays is time to remember those who cannot be with you. The Good Samaritan Hospice Love Light Tree has helped people in our community do just that since 1995. You can purchase a “love light tag” in memory of a loved one for $10 or, for a donation of $25, individuals receive a 2016 porcelain ornament and a “love light tag.”

“Our love for someone does not die with them. It lives on in memories and day-to-day reminders of what life together meant. We work through grief by remembering, not by forgetting,” explains Good Samaritan Hospice CEO Sue Ranson.

At the beginning of the holiday season, Love Light Trees will be set up in Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke and New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg. They will be left on display at these locations throughout the months of November and December. Those who purchase “love light tags” will be able to choose the tree on which they would like their tag to be displayed. Thursday, December 15, is the deadline date to order Love Light ornaments to guarantee that they will be received in time for Christmas. Visit www.goodsamhospice.com for more information.

Make memories that will last a lifetime at Dickens of a Christmas in Downtown Roanoke! This event takes place on the first three Fridays in December. Festivities will begin on December 2 with the City of Roanoke’s Christmas Tree Lighting at 6:15 pm. On December 9, the Christmas Parade will begin at 7 pm. Finally, on December 16, enjoy the Coca Cola Snow Zone and the RVSPCA Pet Costume Contest beginning at 6:30 pm.

This free, family-friendly event includes roasted chestnuts, carriage rides and street performers through all three evenings. Visit www.downtownroanoke.org for more information.

Local Holiday Shopping: Rustic & Refined

The holidays are right around the corner, and Pam Burgess of Rustic & Refined is ready to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list! Located in a beautiful 1940’s Cape Cod home, Rustic & Refined’s ten themed rooms include antiques, hand-`painted furniture, florals, seasonal decor, and much more. Pam has nine years of experience in choosing items for her customers in Salem, Virginia. In a business that is increasing in popularity, that knowledge is invaluable.

photo-sep-20-2“I am a picker at heart,” she explains. “I travel the East Coast and find those one-of-a-kind, unique items. Most of the furniture comes from estate sales. There is a thrill to the hunt—finding that special something that someone comes in, loves and buys is an amazing feeling.”

Pam becomes part of the story for every item that she sells. She refinishes certain pieces of furniture, creates floral arrangements and wreaths, and most importantly, she connects customers with new treasures for their homes.
I found a gorgeous buffet in West Virginia,” she recalls. “A couple bought it and used it as a sink in their bathroom. It’s always fun to think about what people are going to do with an item or where they are going to put it.”

photo-sep-20-3Of course, with multiple DIY shoes on HGTV and Pinterest right at the fingertips of everyone with a smartphone, the market for repurposed items is booming. Pam recently visited a Flea Market Extravaganza boasting 3,000 vendors. Knowing what will sell and what customers are seeking is a valuable asset. In addition to knowing her market in Salem, she also looks for specific treasures.

“I carry a little pink book that I try to put people’s names in and what they’re looking for,” she says. “When I find something that fits, I send them a snapshot. If it is what they want, I buy it and bring it home.”

Pam’s friend and colleague, Beth Shearer, has been with her at Rustic & Refined since day one. Together, they work to keep the store open five days each week and find the best home and gift items for their customers.

photo-sep-20Join us for Rustic & Refined’s Holiday Open House Friday, November 3 through Sunday, November 5. Visitors will enjoy light refreshments as they tour the ten decorated rooms and shop for gifts and decorations.

“The main room will have a heavily white-flocked tree. There will be a 9-foot tree in the big sunroom. The entire house will reflect a Christmas theme,” says Pam. This is a great opportunity to purchase your holiday decor and perfect unforgettable gifts for everyone you love!

Visit www.facebook.com/RusticandRefinedva1 for more information on store hours, location, and contact information.

Holiday Sweet Treats

Ok, I have to be honest. The holidays snuck up on me this year, and I haven’t done my baking yet.

The good news (for me, and any other procrastinator out there) is that Member One has some amazing holiday cookie recipes in our current issue. One of which is this simple and easy Classic Sugar Cookie recipe.

MemberOneYou will need:
3 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
powdered sugar

Sift salt, baking soda, and flour. Combine butter, sugar, and egg. Beat with an electric mixer. Gradually add flour until dough mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Split the dough in half and refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Before rolling out dough, sprinkle surface with powdered sugar. Roll dough into 1/4″ thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place 1″ apart on greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cookies.

 

It is a time honored tradition in our family to add sprinkles to the top, but you can add whatever you want to make your cookies festive! We won’t judge you if you eat them all before you get to your party!

Now, please excuse me while I go start my oven and finally get ready for the holidays!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan (with a little help from Member One).

 

Savvy Styling Tips Every Holiday Host Needs To Know

This season, deck the halls with styling tricks to elevate your holiday party without putting a freeze on your bank account. Home entertaining expert and party stylist Chris Nease, of Celebrations at Home, shares her stylish secrets to throw a posh holiday bash on a budget.

13041_BIt’s All In the Details
Fact: A swanky holiday party does not require a ton of decorations or perfect coordination, according to Nease. A little creativity goes a long way with inexpensive touches. Use pieces that you already have to create an effortless look that feels cozy and stylish all at once:

* Make it Pinterest-worthy by casually draping two versatile fabrics over your primary serving area. Set up food stations with complementary items grouped together on serving platters. Garnish platters with fresh herbs and cranberries for a rustic, fancy touch.

* See you later formal dining, tiny food is here to stay. Whip up a scrumptious menu of small bites to encourage guests to try new foods. Make it easy for the not-so-adventurous ones and label appetizers and pairings that aren’t so obvious (like gourmet meats and mustards).

* It’s all about plating when you weave in a holiday classic like glazed spiral sliced ham. For a new rendition, make it a small plate by cutting slices of ham in half to create mini sliders with a sweet chutney fruit spread. The saltiness of ham pairs deliciously with pineapple, apple or cranberry.

* Cinnamon spice and everything nice. Keep it classy with a fancy cocktail, like a spiked apple cider. Try the Not Your Momma’s Cider recipe from ALDI below. For a simple garnish, thread diced red and green apples on a toothpick (sprinkle lemon juice on the apples to keep from browning) and top with a cinnamon stick for the perfect fancy embellishment.

A Holiday Party To Remember
For a simple homemade touch, send guests home with a sweet something to end the evening:

* Good things do come in small packages. Fill mini holiday tins with an assortment of European sweets, such as German chocolates or marzipan.
* Swoon your guests with a touch of rustic charm by filling Mason jars with layers of premeasured ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe. Wrap with a ribbon and add baking instructions on a festive gift tag.
* Purchase limited-time European cookies at ALDI. Have the kids dip each cookie halfway in melted chocolate and add holiday sprinkles for a simple holiday treat. These will almost feel made from scratch, but no one will know.

13041_ANot Your Momma’s Cider

You will need:
1 cup Wicked Grove Hard Cider
8 cups Nature’s Nectar Apple Cider, divided
6 cinnamon sticks, divided
12 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
8 ounces dark rum
1 red apple, diced
1 green apple, diced

In bowl, combine hard cider and 4 cups apple cider. Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze overnight.
In pot, combine remaining apple cider, 2 cinnamon sticks and 8 sprigs thyme. Bring to boil. Remove from heat, stir in rum.
Strain mixture into bowl. Place mixture in refrigerator overnight to cool.
Divide liquid among 4 mugs.
To serve hot, remove steps 1 and 3 and serve immediately.