{Living}

2013 Gift Guide – Under $50

2013 Gift Guide

The holidays are upon us, and we are getting to crunch time when it comes to gift buying. We asked our contributors for their top picks under $50. The things they cannot absolutely, couldn’t possibly live without. Here’s what they had to say:

2013 Gift Guide – Under $50

Holly: Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill mascara. I can’t live without it because it’s the BEST mascara I’ve ever tried and I’ve tried almost all of them. As a makeup artist, it’s my responsibility to try products before I use them on my clients. For years I’ve only found mascaras that I like; until I tried Eyes to Kill. The mascara lengthens and adds volume without clumping. I don’t have long or thick lashes, but the mascara (magically) finds the shortest lashes and lengthens them and the thinnest lashes and adds volume that looks very natural. The end result, is beautiful, long lashes. A great mascara is the stand-alone product that makes my eyes Pop!

Eva Said It: A slam dunk for coffee lovers. What’s better than a pound or two of gourmet beans and a grinder! Hit any store that sells kitchen appliances and gadgets for a grinder. You can go high end and fancy, but my its not uncommon to find a basic model that does the job just right for about $20. Then, hit a gourmet shop (in NYC, I love Porto Rico Importing Company on Bleecker St. www.portorico.com) for some of the tastiest and exotic coffee beans you can find! Toss both in a basket with some shortbread cookies or chocolates, et voila! A gift they wouldn’t dream of returning or regifting, and will use with pleasure!

Charlene: When holiday shopping for someone who already has it all, or you just can’t figure out what to get someone, I opt to send a donation to their favorite cause or charity in their name. You get to do good and it’s tax deductible. You can even make the donation at  justgive.org and let them choose the organization where they want the money to go.

Scarlett: My Roku box is the best thing a girl can have (and it doesn’t hurt that Roku sounds like the French pronunciation of my last name). Roku is this cute little streaming box that lets you turn any TV into a Smart TV and the prices start at $49.99 for the LT model. You can watch channels like NetFlix, Amazon Prime and so much more. All you need is wireless Internet and a TV. Boom.Done! Oh, they have free shipping right now!

Trinidad: You’ll pry my food processor from my cold dead hands, it’s one of my most prized possessions. It’s definitely a thing I can’t live without. This handy gages chops, minces, dices, purees and in a pinch blends. I’ve used it to make soups, pestos, grating cheese and even making dough. The thing is seriously versatile. This is a great gift for anyone who likes to cook and/or entertain.

 

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{Living}

Holiday Budget Tips

Holiday Budget

 

Now that the holidays are quickly approaching you might be thinking that you have to buy so many gifts with so little time and money. Here are our holiday budget tips to making shopping easier.

  1. Create a holiday budget. You can do this by visiting www.mychristmasbudget.com. This budget lets you see how much cash you will have available to spend on Christmas gifts.
  2. After creating your budget, make a list of the names of individuals you will be purchasing gifts for and right down the gifts that you want to purchase for the individuals.
  3. Check for the best deals for items that you want to purchase.
  4. Stay within your budget that you’ve created buy not over spending.
  5. Shop at stores that price match.
  6. Use coupons. An excellent site with a wide variety of coupons is www.retailmenot.com. This site has both printable and online use coupons.
  7. If you have to use credit cards for your holiday purchases, use the card with the lowest interest rate and try to pay off the holiday purchases asap.

What are your tips for staying on budget during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments.

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Contributor | Charlene Bey
Charlene Bey is an Accountant and is the owner of Easy Flow Bookkeeping, LLC. Charlene eats, sleep and lives accounting and loves giving her opinion when it comes to being financial savvy.

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{Food & Entertaining}

Thanksgiving: 5 Cocktails To Wow ‘Em!

Happy Harvest, Socialites!

Here we are, in mid-November, planning big dinners, detailed tabletops, and please-no-one-kill-each-other seating arrangements. You’re thinking of it all to make sure everyone has a good time and avoids jail time eats well! But while you’re choosing side dishes and weighing giant fowl, don’t leave out one of the most important ingredients in dealing with family: what is everyone drinking?

Sure, wine with dinner is traditional, classic, and easy. But why not kick it up a bit with all of one of these 5 fall flavored cocktails? Before dinner drinks, or for cozy after dinner convo, I’ve got you covered! Each recipe serves 2, because you’ll DEFINITELY want a refill.

The Pomegranate Martinipomegranate martini

  • 3 oz. plain vodka of your choice
  • 5 oz. POM Wonderful (antioxidant alert!!)
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • pomegranate seeds and orange rind for garnish

Combine in an ice filled shaker and strain into martini glass. Garnish with an orange rind curl on the side and loose pomegranate seeds in the bottom. They look like rubies!

The Caramel Apple Martini

  • 3 oz. apple flavored vodka
  • 1 oz. butterscotch liqueur
  • 4 oz. apple juice
  • caramel cube for garnish

Combine in an ice filled shaker and shake vigorously. Place an old fashioned cube of caramel at the bottom of each martini glass and strain your libation over it. Not only will it add flavor as it melts, but when the drink is done, there’s a treat!

The Pumpkin Pie Martini

  • 3 oz. vanilla flavored vodka
  • 3 oz. Godiva white chocolate liqueur
  • 4 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • whipped cream to garnish

Spread a healthy spoon of whipped topping around on a saucer and dip the rim of your serving glass into it, akin to how you might dip a margarita glass into sugar. Shake measured ingredients together over ice and strain into the glass. This one makes a great dessert drink, served in martini glass or with extra whipped cream as a decadent shot sized serving to sip. Ta-da! Talk about a no-bake recipe!

Haute Toddy

  • 4 oz. Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 4 whole cloves
  • enough boiling water to fill the mugs
  • ground cinnamon to taste
  • 2 lemon wedges for garnish
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks for garnish

Pour the bourbon into two stylish mugs or Irish coffee glasses. (Tip: I love the homey size of clear glass coffee mugs and they’re easier to find at big chain discount or dollar stores!) Add 2 cloves and a little ground cinnamon to each. Fill mugs the rest of the way with boiling water, adding a wedge of lemon and a stick of cinnamon to each as garnish. Perfect accompaniment to board games after dinner!

Fig Infused Vodkafresh figs

  • 4 whole fresh black figs
  • 1 750ml bottle of your favorite vodka, resealable

Wash, then cut your figs into quarters. Add them to the bottle of vodka, close, and keep it out of sunlight for about 5 days. Every day or so, agitate the bottle. Think swirls to spread the flavor around, rather than froth-inducing martini shaker style. At the end of the 5th day, strain out the solid fig bits…and you’ve got artisanal vodka! But be warned, you’ll have to start this one early if you want to sample it at Thanksgiving! The longer the infusion, the more flavor it will have. So, no Socialite, an overnight infusion won’t do. Plan ahead!

As with the recipe for anything, play around with these and make them your own. Maybe add a special touch that’s just yours. For example, try a green tea bag in your Haute Toddy. Add a Madagascar vanilla bean to your fig infused vodka batch. What about a raspberry flavored vodka in your pomegranate martini? Also, I’ve used brands that I favor through the years – use what YOU like! The sky’s the limit for fall flavor in your glass!

So, now that that’s solved…where’s your mother-in-law sitting? Need a cocktail, Socialite? ::smirk::

Till next time, cheers!

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Contributor | Eva Said It
Eva is a mother, writer, entertaining doyenne, and snark expert based in New York City. Money can’t buy happiness, but it buys her lots of wine and stinky cheese…which is close enough. Catch more of her stiletto clad sarcasm at www.evasaidit.com.

 

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