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Gifts that Give!

To me the holiday season is all about giving. Ever since I was little I’ve loved finding the perfect gift for the people I love. The thrill of seeing unguarded-human reaction when opening thoughtful gifts is such a natural high for me. I truly do enjoy giving more than receiving, I always have. Not to say I won’t accept gifts…don’t get crazy! I’d rather get gifts in the form of experiences with the people I love, like a trip or a show rather than a thing. However, when that ‘thing’ does something with the money you use to purchase it, then that object becomes more than just a thing. It becomes a symbol of goodness that’s being done. And lets face it, there’s so much goodness that needs to be done in this world. Lucky for us, there’s also a lot of do-gooders out there doing the good. They’re producing products and services that allow consumers to reach out with their money in a way that they themselves may not have been able to.

Below I’ve compiled a list of some of favorite causes & brands that are doing the good with your money. No surprise that these causes surround food. Sadly it’s no secret our country / world is in the throws of a ‘hunger epidemic.’ Between economies crashing, global weather patterns shifting, and the lack of education about sustainable food sources…we’ve found ourselves in an alarming situation. People can try and point fingers, but that just wastes time and energy. Why not funnel that energy into something productive, positive, and progressive?! These companies & organizations have found ways to create ‘things’ that do major things for others around the world and in our communities. Tis’ the season to give; why not give a gift that truly keeps on giving?

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I learned about FEED Projects when they partnered up with Target a couple of years ago. Their founder/creator is Lauren Bush Lauren. As a World Food Programme (WFP) Honorary Student Spokesperson, Lauren visited countries around the world in Asia, Latin America, and Africa where WFP is operating, and was inspired by the plight of the people she met on her travels. She took a special interest in WFP’s School Feeding program, which feeds and educates hungry children. After witnessing the effects of hunger firsthand, Lauren founded FEED in 2007 with the mission of “Creating Good Products That Help FEED the World.”  You can read more about FEED’s history & involvement here. Their mission is pretty clear ; FEED’s mission is to create good products that help FEED the world. We do this through the sale of FEED bags, accessories, and apparel by building a set donation into the cost of each product. Thus the impact of each product, signified by a stenciled number, is understandable, tangible, and meaningful.

Over the years I’ve purchased FEED products for myself, friends, and family. I’ve always found their products to be of great quality and sustainability. This t-shirt is my latest purchase of FEED products. Just by purchasing this shirt I’ve helped to provide 10 meals. 10! That’s awesome. Their products range from bags (big and small), t-shirts, bracelets, hats, and even aprons & oven mitts! Check  out their full line of apparel and other goods here. As of today, they’ve provided over 85 million meals world wide. Yeah. Let’s keep that going!

 

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Ok, by now we’ve all heard about TOMS and their one-for-one shoe program. No? Well, if you by a pair of TOMS shoes they’ll give a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS has come along way & has done a tremendous amount of good. Along the way they’ve helped other companies who want to do the good too. They’ve provided a platform for them to sell their products on. It’s called TOMS Marketplace & you have to check it out. Established in 2013, TOMS Marketplace is a platform for social entrepreneurs. Shop jewelry; accessories; bags, totes, and clutches; clothing for women, men, and kids; home goods; headphones; and more. TOMS Marketplace, a new destination for making a difference. It’s a like a ‘giving the good’ portal. It allows ‘unknown’ artisans a place to showcase their goods. When browsing you can click on the artisan or shop name to find out more about what they’re connected to and what your money will be supporting. It’s truly inspiring to see so many people producing beautiful things with the intent of giving back.

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Sevenly is another platform for giving good. They began in 2011 by four people who shared the mission of leading a generation toward generosity. Based on a core belief that “People Matter,” they began a journey to do their part in helping to change the world for the better. Activating the “cause art” movement worldwide, Sevenly began by creating 7-day cause campaigns, inviting customers to purchase products that gave $7 to a weekly charity. Now widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading “social good” companies, mashable.com just named Sevenly “America’s most social business” and “one of the Top 10 Stories in the First 10 Years of Facebook.” They have a huge collection of items that are fantastic. Any would make a lovely gift. Or let your gift-tee choose their own treat with a gift card!

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Half United [fashion that feeds] is a company that was started by a brother & sister with just $200. Their intent was to help fight global hunger. They also just happen to be from my college town of Wilmington, NC. This company has blossomed into a thriving business that now partners with major players in the socially conscious retail world like, TOMS. Half of the profits from all items go to fighting the global hunger epidemic & their products are American made! As they said… “Our mission is to change the world and that starts with the people in our own backyard.” This necklace is one I gifted myself for my birthday. Feels good to know one necklace helped to provide a weeks worth of meals to a child in need. Since 2010 they’ve helped to provide over 115,000 meals. That’s quite impressive for a grassroots company, or any company for that matter. Their products range from their original ‘fighting hunger necklaces‘ made from recycled bullet casings to earrings, bracelets, clothing, and now journals & pencil sets. The necklaces are a great choice for a bold yet simple statement. Conversation starters are my favorite kinds of accessories. Accessories that speak for themselves…yes, please. #doyourhalf

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On the local level, I love supporting organizations like Seed of Life Nurseries. They offer a fantastic CSA (community supported agriculture) program that make an amazing gift for the food lovers in your life. Who wouldn’t want farm-fresh produce hand picked and packaged on a weekly basis? Not only that, with the money spent on your ‘share’ of produce SOL turns around and supports the local community with food drops to families in need, cooking classes for youth, and agriculturally centered programs that provide ‘awareness and dignity’ to those involved. Through teaching cooking classes & volunteering at events I’ve been lucky enough to get to know the family behind SOL Nurseries. Talk about good-doers. Through their dedication, education, and emphasis on lending a helping hand wherever it’s needed; this is one organization that truly builds community. Find out more about their CSA programs here  and give a gift that gives back in more ways than one. #shoplocal #supportlocal #supportlocalfarms

 

Happy Holidays to all. Give the goods that give back this year. But remember, it’s the gift of joy & laughter that is the greatest gift of all. So eat, drink, and be merry—the giggles & ‘joy to the world’ will surely follow!

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Nutri-Ninja Blender System Product Review

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Lets begin by saying that I have never had access to an amazing blender/food processor before. So this review may be a bit biased in that regard.

When the Nutri Ninja Blender System with Auto-iQ arrived on my door step I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy. This was a serious machine. It had many parts  & pieces but to my pleasant surprise, very simple directions. As an easily overwhelmed individual, I am always appreciative when companies streamline & simplify their ‘introductions & instructions’ paperwork. This system includes the Nutri Ninja® Pro Extractor Blades, Stacked Total Crushing® Blades, 64oz processor bowl, 18oz-24oz-32oz Nutri Ninja® cup, and the 72oz Nutri Ninja®pitcher.

After using the Ninja for the past 2 months I can honestly say I am very satisfied. It truly does all that is boasts. The proof really is in the pudding…just make it. I’ve used the Ninja to makes soups, bullet-proof coffee, and a holiday traditional favorite…cran-orange relish, you can find the recipe for this below. The Ninja System also comes with some awesome recipes. Several of which I have tried and love already!

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The Auto-iQ system really does seem to be quite intelligent. It pulses to blend automatically for you and probably in a better way then we could manually. I’m so excited to try new recipes with my ninja. I’ve never been much of a smoothie queen, but now that I have this stellar system I feel like I might want to jump aboard that ever popular smoothie train. With its ice-crushing & pulverizing ability, seems silly not to. Maybe after the holidaze…

This system is easy to store even for tiny apartment dwellers like me. All of the parts are dishwasher friendly [ah if only I had one of those]. And the smaller cups come with Sip and Seal™ travel lids for easy transport of individual coffees or [ahem] smoothies!

As a self-taught cook I like to think that with the right equipment, youtube videos, and pinterest tutorials I can conquer anything in the kitchen. Bottom line, having this system in my arsenal only increases my chance of successful outcomes.

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bulletproof coffee ya’ll. thanks ninja!!

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this stuff is a family tradition and it carries some serious nostalgic weight. my mom makes it every holiday season. it’s great with any & all holiday meals. but I enjoy it even more on top of a melted brie or mixed in with mayo for a sweet/tangy aioli on a turkey sandwich. it really can be used in, on, or with anything. it’s so light and refreshing!

 

Cran-Orange Relish

Ingredients

1 small bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 orange, cut into rough chunks (skin on)

Instructions

  1. place all ingredients in ninja processor bowl.
  2. hit food puree & stand back to watch the magic.
  3. you might have to do this more than once, but I didn't!
http://thedailydeelight.com/2014/12/nutri-ninja-blender-system-product-review.html

I was given this product to review. However all opinions and comments are my own.

 

 

 

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it is gratitude that makes us joyful…

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I am filled with gratitude. for all the things.
tip of the iceberg, in no particular order…

photo-booths
bacon
bangles
anything turquoise
mixed metals
satirical news
words that grab you
bonfires
peanut butter out of the jar
a quirky sense of humor
crusty croissants
fermented grape juice
typography
thick British accents
the smell of NYC sidewalks after it rains
emoji cryptic messages
yoga breaths
holistic healthcare
fuzzy socks
lavender scented anything
scarves that can double as blankets
music that moves you
ballerinas with attitude
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
anything salty, crunchy, or spicy
labels…on inanimate objects, not people
horizontal life pauses [aka…naps]
sunsets that leave you speechless
sunrises that fill you with hope
cheese and crackers…for dinner
chocolate chip cookies – still warm in the middle
adrenaline pumping leaps
shellac manicures
cats that snore
boys that don’t
political thrillers
TEDtalks
TEDtalkers
animated shorts
ok, netflix
unsung heroes
beautiful minds
fearless hearts
innovative thinking
life-long-learners
passionate banter
solidarity
transformative travel
haunting poetry
inspiring acceptance speeches
planes, trains and automobiles
soul cleansing tears
unwavering wanderlust
garden roses
vegetable gardens
playing in the dirt
snail mail
trusting your instincts
resilient role models
peaceful silence
compassionate people
unconditional love
grand gestures
brutiful truths
healing hugs
a table filled with food and surrounded by laughter
for me-
the holiday season may not always be joyful,
but it is always filled with gratitude.
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Thanksgiving Dessert? This.

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Still wondering what to make for Thanksgiving dessert tomorrow? I gotcha covered. Meet my new obsession. I’ve named her, “Cran-Apple Crumble with Salted Caramel Sauce.” Or you can call her cranny-salt-crack. Your choice.

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Cran-Apple Crumble with Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

1 pre-made graham cracker crust [judge me]
4-5 golden delicious apples, cubed
1 cup fresh cranberries, halved
2-4 tbsp butter
1 packet [single serving] instant oatmeal packet, brown sugar & maple syrup
butter
granulated sugar
half & half

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine; apples, cranberry slices, oatmeal packet, and McCormick Cinnamon Sugar Seasoning.
  2. Pour mixture into pie crust, dot with butter evenly.
  3. Bake @ 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until apples are softened.
  4. Prepare salted caramel sauce while crumble is baking.
  5. Serve with your choice of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or cool whip [my choice] and drizzle salted caramel sauce on top!
http://thedailydeelight.com/2014/11/thanksgiving-dessert-this.html

I don’t bake. This is an illusion. I swear. So either I’m an illusionist or this was that easy. Who doesn’t want tasty & easy? Don’t answer that. I’m still in shock I made a salted caramel sauce. I! I made that. And was seriously so simple it was like a dream. Or an out of body experience. Or maybe it just tasted like a dream? I’m gonna go with all of the above. This crumble is sitting on the corner of awesome & bomb diggity. Jump on it.

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