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Anti-Valentine’s Day

We all know Valentine’s Day can either be a wonderful thing, or just downright terrible. For those of you who aren’t being smothered with cheesy gifts and affection this Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone.

Here are a few tips on how to turn what could potentially be a lousy holiday into a fabulous one.

Call up your single friends.

Having people in your life whose relationship status is equivalent to yours is very important, especially on days like this. So pick up the phone and invite all of your friends who are willing to join in on the anti-celebration with you. They probably need it just as much as you do. 

Indulge in snacks.

On this particular occasion, it’s okay to skip the gourmet cheeses and go straight for the sweet stuff. Ask each of your friends to bring a half-pint of their favorite flavor ice cream, and you could offer to provide the toppings. And if you all want to feel extra sweet, put out a jar full of Dove chocolates where each wrapper contains an encouraging message inside. Chocolate and words of affirmation? Hell yeah!

Wine & cocktails, of course.

What better to pair up dark chocolate with but a delicious, smooth red wine? Try Moda Talamonti, a 2012 Italian red suggested by the famous Zach Eidson, owner of a shop local to us called Oakley Wines. If not all of your guests are into reds, try Pannonica, a 2013 Austrian white with a scent of apricots, limes and roses. Both wines are provided for under $20 and can be found in most wine shops near you.

However, if you’re looking to get creative with your evening, check out the Living Room’s very own cocktail under the “Favorites” category.

Music that fits.

This is by far one of the best opportunities to break out the dusty karaoke machine that’s been sitting in the back of basement and really let loose. Yes ladies, this means you can rock out to Taylor Swift’s latest album in front of your friends guilt-free. Whether you’re a 90’s or an 80’s child, be as cliché as possible and sing along to all the oldies you can get your hands on. I’m talking from Michael Jackson to Bon Jovi to the Backstreet Boys. Don’t be shy!

Games, Games, Games.

It’s extra important to laugh today. Here are a few of our favorite games that are bound to take your mind of anything else but trying not to fall out of your chair.

Feel free to add your favorite alcoholic beverage to the mix; we sure did!

Cards Against Humanity

Apples to Apples

The Game of Things

Hedbanz

Pick a movie that proves why being single has its perks.

If you’re looking for a movie with a beginning full of bittersweet romance and an ending with a lesson on being alone is a positive thing, try some of these old and new films that’ll make you feel confident riding solo.

Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012)

Blue Valentine (2010)

500 Days of Summer (2009)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

High Fidelity (2000)

Annie Hall (1977)

Treat yourself for being so awesome.

Buying things for yourself may cause little more harm to your wallet, but who knows your style better than you? Sure, receiving gifts from a significant other is always a nice (free) gesture, but it’s not always something we actually want… So go ahead to your favorite store and purchase the most amazing thing that catches your eye. You earned it.

Love yourself.

Don’t let one day out of the year get you down. Instead, take it as a reflection of how wonderful you are, with or without a significant other. Take pride in all the amazing things you do and pat yourself on the back for it.

So sit back, eat a cookie (or five), and enjoy this new, self-satisfying holiday we call Valentine’s Day.

Top 10 Holiday Cocktails

Blackberry Thyme Sparkler

(Makes 4 Cocktails)

  • 1 c. blackberries + 8 more for garnish
  • 1 c. Water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 bottle of champagne
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 c. gin
  • 4 long sprigs of thyme
  • 1 c. ice
  • gold baking sugar for the rim
  • In a small saucepan, bring blackberries, water, and sugar to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the blackberries are soft and the simple syrup has turned to a bright pink/redish color. Remove from heat, drain blackberries, and allow to cool.
  • Prepare your champagne glasses. Begin by adding 1 ounce of gin to each champagne glass.  Next drop two blackberries in each glass, followed by 2 ounces of homemade blackberry simple syrup. Fill the rest of the glass with champagne and top with a sprig of thyme in each glass.

http://theeffortlesschic.com/2013/the-table/cocktail-hour-blackberry-thyme-sparkler/

The (Mixed Citrus) Whisky Sour

  • 2 oz whiskey
  • 1 oz sour mix (3 parts lemon juice, 1 part orange juice, 1 part lime juice, and 1 part grapefruit juice)
  • .5 oz simple syrup

Thai-Basil Sangria

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 Thai basil sprigs
  • Zest of 1 lemon, peeled in 3-inch strips
  • Zest of 1 orange, peeled in 3-inch strips
  • 2 bottles chilled Pinot Grigio
  • 3/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, strained
  • Ice
  • Chilled club soda
  • 12 thin orange slices, for garnish
  • In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the basil sprigs and lemon and orange zests. Let the syrup stand, stirring often, until cooled to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Discard the basil sprigs and zest strips.
  • In a large pitcher, combine the basil syrup with the wine, brandy and orange juice. Pour the sangria into ice-filled glasses, top with club soda and garnish each drink with an orange slice.

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/thai-basil-sangria?crlt.pid=camp.W92Tt2oK0Xok

Pink Grapefruit, Ginger, and Lemongrass Sake Cocktail

  • 2 tablespoons packed chopped lemongrass (tips reserved for optional garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon packed chopped ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon organic, blonde cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) strained meyer lemon juice (or 1 tablespoon regular lemon juice plus 1 additional tablespoon grapefruit juice)
  • 6 tablespoons strained pink grapefruit juice
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) dry sake ice
  • In a measuring pitcher or jar, vigorously muddle together the lemongrass, ginger, and sugar until the mixture is broken down fairly well, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, muddle a bit longer, then stir in the grapefruit juice and sake. (Optionally let the mixture steep for 5 minutes or up to several hours in the refrigerator for a stronger flavor.) Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into a jar or cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, pressing on the solids to extract all the good stuff. Stir or shake the mixture for 10 seconds to chill, then strain into two wine glasses filled partway with ice. Garnish with a lemongrass tip, if you like, and serve.

http://www.bojongourmet.com/2014/03/grapefruit-ginger-and-lemongrass-sake.html

Thyme Blood Orange Bourbon Cocktail

  • ½ cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 4 tablespoons thyme Truvia simple syrup (1 cup water, 5 sprigs fresh thyme, 1/3 cup +1 tablespoon Truvia spoonable Natural sweetener)
  • Seltzer water

http://www.nutmegnanny.com/2014/02/13/thyme-blood-orange-bourbon-cocktail/

Blueberry Lemonade

  • 1 (12 ounce) bag unsweetened, frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1 cup vanilla simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded
  • 3 – 4 cups water/ice
  • optional garnishes
  • lemon curls
  • mint leaves
  • fresh blueberries

http://menumusings.blogspot.com/2013/08/blueberry-lemonade.html

Blood Orange Margarita…Pitcher!

  • 750 ml bottle of reposado tequila
  • 1 cup orange liqueur
  • 1 1/2 cups lime juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup (combine equal parts sugar and water)
  • 3 cups blood orange juice
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • limes wedges and blood orange salt for garnish

Blood Orange Margarita . . . Pitchers!

Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cognac
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 750ml bottle cava (or other dry sparkling wine), chilled
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Add the apples to a large pitcher reserving about 1/2 cup for garnishing. Add the cognac, apple cider, and chilled cava. Stir.
  • Fill the pitcher with ice. Pour the sangria into glasses filled with ice and top with sliced apple and pomegranate seeds.

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-sparkling-apple-cider-sangria-the-10-minute-happy-hour-197417

Holiday Mule

  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 1/2 oz gin or vodka
  • 2 oz chilled ginger beer
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • orange slice, for garnish
  • sugared cranberries, for garnish

Instructions

Combine simple syrup, cranberry juice, and gin. Pour over ice and top with ginger beer. Serve garnished with rosemary, orange wedge and sugared cranberries, if desired.

http://www.homesweetjones.com/holiday-mule/

Hot Cider

  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1 6-inch cinnamon stick, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons packedImperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and stir. Cook on low for 3 hours. To serve, pour in mugs and garnish with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick.

http://www.imperialsugar.com/recipes/category/beverages-cocktails/Slow-Cooker-Apple-Pie-Cider

Holiday Shopping

There is a ton of shopping to do around the holidays. Traveling to the mall, the wine shop, and boutiques looking for perfectly thoughtful gifts. You are the Christopher Columbus of our time!

Manning your way through holiday crowds, scouting out the last parking spot in the city and braving the cold, you have done your part. Santa would be proud. But even though Columbus was off exploring and discovering new things, and all the while sporting a kick ass hat, there’s no way he had time to put together a quick and easy holiday party.

So to keep you sane and give you some much needed time to kick up your heels with some hot cocoa, here is a list of all the things you need to set the table and they’re all from Target, because lets face it, Target is the best. They’re pieces are stylish, affordable and on trend, so you know your table is going to be the talk of the town.

Top Florists in Cincinnati

This city is booming with creative minds. Whether you are searching for that a special arrangement or looking to hire a florist to transform a space, here are some tips and tricks:

High End for less:

Local grocery stores:

  • Surprisingly enough you can find some of the best flowers and greenery at your local market. The Hydrangeas at Trader Joes as well as the roses found at Kroger are wonderful budget friendly finds.
    • Extra Hint: ask the floral clerk at the Kroger to create customized arrangements with the flowers of your choice.

Local farms:

  • Some of the most beautiful arrangements can be created from wild flowers. Do a quick internet search to find local farms near you and reach out to the owners to ask about their offerings. I have known a few brides to create centerpieces and even a bridal bouquets from wild flowers hand picked right from their own community.

The whole package:

New Years Resolutions

New Years resolutions, otherwise known as the tradition of breaking promises.

Many people today choose to change things in their life that they have trouble maintaining, therefore it tends implode within the first few months.

Instead of breaking your promise this year, break the tradition and choose the achievable! Below is a list of practical, beneficial, and fun ways to start your new year!

Commit to crossing one thing off your bucket list.

If you don’t have a bucket list, make one.

Texting and driving.

Stop! Stay alive!

Do (at least) one thing for someone else. Then, ask them to pass it along!

Some ideas include buying the food for the person behind you at a drive-thru restaurant, giving money to someone in need, or inviting someone who could use good company over for dinner.

Break out those kitchen appliances you’ve always had but never used.

Bread oven, slow cooker, quesadilla maker; you name it!

Try five new foods.

Get creative when you decide to go out and even when you cook at home!

Make a travel jar.

Save for ONE specific place to go this year, and do it.

Educate yourself in something you know nothing about.

Sign up for a photography class, practice meditation, or read a book about astronomy. The world is full of amazing things, why not become familiar with as much of it as you can?

Volunteer more.

Seriously, go ahead and Google “volunteer opportunities in my area.” I dare you!

Learn to take care of something new that’s living.

This resolution could range from an actual human being to a small plant that requires little water and sunlight. Either way, find the line and go for it.

Pick one thing about yourself you want to do better, and work on it.

It’s easy to complain about that one thing we see in ourselves we dislike the most. Instead of sulking, take action!

Good to Great Review

Good-To-Great-Jim-Collins-Unabridged-Audio-Book-CD

I have often been handed books from bosses or colleagues in my career and if I’m being truthful I’d bet only a handful have every really stood out to me. I find most business books are so lost in theory that it’s near impossible to find away to actually apply the principles they are trying to convey.

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