It’s that time again… National Croissant Day. What a perfect bookend to the first month of the new year! #Treatyoself
My dear friend Linda, a Scarsdale resident, told me that this is the place to go for croissants, and boy was she right. To think I’ve lived in this county for 15 years and this weekend was the first time I’ve been to La Renaissance. I’ve been missing out this whole time, but better late than never I guess! One bite of this light and fluffy croissant and I was transported to Paris.
The regular croissant is soft and smooth, unlike the well done and flaky variety that I’ve had. The pain au chocolat is just as soft with just the right amount of chocolate.
Get here early for hot croissants fresh out of the oven . They’re open from 8-6 Monday- Saturday and 8-1 on Sundays. Sign up for their email list and receive $5 off your first purchase! De rien. Stroll around the historic Scarsdale village to enjoy the best croissant the county has to offer.
This charming Patisserie in the heart of Bronxville village does croissants very well. They offer a Dulce de leche croissant as well as a delicious almond croissant. Flaky, buttery, and not an overwhelming almond flavor. They feature a different croissant flavor every few weeks so you’ll always have something new to try!
They’re open Tuesday-Friday 7 – 4:30, Saturday 8:30 – 4, and Sunday 9 – 1.
I’ve yet to try this one, but it’s next on my list. It looks irresistible.
Welcome to the weekend! And welcome to our first Twice Baked Croissant of 2018!🎉 Pecan and Chocolate lovers this one is for YOU! 🎉😍 . . . . . #chantillybronxville #bakery #patisserie #huffposttaste #eeeeeats #yummy #food #foodie #foodblogger #buzzfeedfood #eatfamous #foodgawker #foodgasm #foodblogger #truecooks #foodforthought #women #womeninbusiness #followforfollow #follow4follow #instagood #instagram
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I saved the best for last here. If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ll know that this has become my go-to café to get some writing done. Here you’ll find the best coffee in the county and the perfect playlist to go with it. What’s special about the croissants at Café E 4:2 is that they’re delivered fresh daily from Bread Alone, a family-owned, values-driven bakery in Rhinebeck, New York. This bakery boasts having the one and only French pastry oven in the state of New York.
The croissants are made with all organic ingredients and you can’t go wrong with an almond, regular, or pain au chocolat. Be sure to grab these early because as a small business in a small town, they only order a dozen a day. The best Barista and my friend, Cristhian, will toast the croissants for you too!
Check them out M-F : 6am – 7pm, Saturday – 8am – 4pm, and Sunday – 8am – 4pm.
If you’re ever in the area, tell them The Daily Croissant sent you! Wherever the day leads you, may you find some time to enjoy a decadent croissant.
Ever thought about learning a new language? Parlez vous Francais? Perhaps you’re planning a trip to the city of light in 2018 or at some point in the future. I know I’m always thinking about my next trip to France! There’s no better time to learn French than maintenant.
Back in the summer, Coucou, one of the two French-only language schools in New York City, invited TDC to check out their school and take a free trial class. Of course, I couldn’t turn down another opportunity to study and practice my French!
It was time I put on my beret and head out to see what Coucou was all about. Upon arriving to their SoHo location at Fueled, Manhattan, I was greeted by the lovely Marianne, a Parisian native and one of the co-founders of Coucou. She greeted me with the sweetest Bonjour I’ve ever heard and I instantly knew I was going to enjoy Marianne’s company.
Make yourself at home
We took the elevator up to the 4th floor where she brought me to the 18,000 square foot co-working office space. “Can I get you a coffee or tea?” she asked. Coucou students get to enjoy all the amenities at Fueled, including a snack bar, a community kitchen with free tea and coffee, fresh popcorn, an ice cream truck, a ping pong table and more. But the biggest perk of all might be the beautiful views over the New York City skyline!
Before my lesson, I took some time to sit with Marianne on one of the many comfy couches to enjoy a cup of tea together and learn more about how the school started, what they have to offer, and where to go for some of the best cheese in NYC. Make sure to read the interview below to find out where she sent me!
Learning a language is not for everybody, but if you’re up for the challenge and want to have some fun while doing it, then Coucou is the French language school for you!
Paris meets New York
Ashley: What brought you to New York?
Marianne: I was traveling in the US 4 ½ years ago when my cousin Lea asked me to help her to open Coucou. I was living in Berlin and working in the music industry at that time, but I’ve always been interested in literature and languages so it was not a stretch to move on to teaching languages.
A: Why do you think New York is an ideal place to start a business, specifically a French culture/language school?
M: New York is so big; no matter how niche your business is, you’ll find an audience for it. There’s a long standing relationship between NY and Paris and we love each other and the exchange between the two.
A family affair
A: What made you want to jump on board with your cousin to create Coucou?
M: Learning a language is both an intellectual and a social activity. It’s fun to teach and interact with my students while promoting French language and culture in the US. This was a goal for me.
A: What makes Coucou different than other language schools?
M: Besides the French Institute Alliance Francaise, we are the only language school in NYC that offers French exclusively and all of our teachers are native speakers. We focus heavily on French culture in teaching the language. This helps the students to appreciate the culture too.
We cap our group classes to 9 people. It’s super important for us to keep our groups small so it allows the teachers to give more attention to each individual student and the opportunity to develop personal relationships with them.
A: As a teacher of English myself, I know the value in that. How did you create the curriculum you have now?
M: We wrote our own curriculum guides for every level that are fun and easy to follow. Each week’s lesson and homework is scheduled so if a student misses a class, they can catch up easily and make sure they don’t miss anything. The activities are playful and engaging, but the main focus of our classes is on conversation. In class, we don’t want students looking at a booklet. Students can go over everything at their own time. All of our teachers are trained using this method.
A: What do you offer in the way of French cultural events outside of the classroom?
M: One of our teachers, Pia, organizes immersive french outings such as trips to a French opera, play or film premiere or dinner at an Algerian/Moroccan restaurant in Williamsburg to discuss the legacy of North Africa and French culture. We’ve celebrated Mardi Gras and Bastille Day with our students at our headquarters in Brooklyn.
A: How can people who are interested in your classes know if it’s the right fit for them?
M: Prospective students can come in for a trial class to see how they like it and which level is right for them. We have a lot of students who sign up after their free trial.
A: I’ve tried learning French a few times. What makes the Coucou method stick?
M: We make our classes fun and if the students are enjoying themselves and associate language learning with something positive, they are more likely to retain the information. After a long day of work, students are tired and not necessarily motivated, so we make sure the class is energetic, otherwise we’re just going to lose them.
We also focus on spoken French over formal written French. We teach grammar in a thorough way, there’s no bypassing that, but it can be done in a fun way.
Students can enjoy a little bit of wine in class and that boosts students’ confidence. If I’m being honest that’s how I learned to be confident speaking English when I was studying in London for University. Moderation is key, but a glass of wine definitely helps!
A: Where can I sign up?
A: What advice would you give to a beginner learning French?
M: Check your expectations. You can’t expect to magically know French in 2 weeks. It all depends on what you’re willing to put into it. Learning a language is a lifelong venture and if you make it part of your daily life by seeking out additional learning materials, then it will be better for you. We’re happy to recommend podcasts you can listen to or tv shows you can watch.
It’s kind of like going to the gym. If it becomes a chore, you’re just going to stop going. But if it’s something you want to do then you’ll be in good shape.
Also, don’t compare yourself to other students. For example, if you have a background in music you may be really good with pronunciation. Whereas, another student may not be as good at pronunciation, but has a better understanding of grammar.
Focus on your own progress and don’t compare yourself to others.
Go to Paris!
A: How confident can someone who completes your course feel about their ability to get around in Paris?
M: What we do in a weekly class is give you tools to feel more confident speaking French, but ultimately you’ll need to spend some time in a French speaking country if you want to practice more and that’s when its all going to make sense.
Some students get frustrated when they go to Paris and people speak to them in English, but when they manage to have a conversation or if they successfully manage to order in a restaurant, that’s when they’re satisfied and excited to keep going.
But if you really want to get good, you should have an immersive experience in a French speaking country.
A: What kind of community have you built at Coucou?
M: My wish has already been fulfilled. We have the most amazing, talented, and creative people who are cultured and curious about the world. My job is amazing in that I get to speak to so many interesting people. How lucky are we?
A: Do students get together outside of class?
M: We may get a drink after class or get together outside of class for a study group. The social aspect cannot be understated and this was the biggest surprise for us running the business. Students realize how important it is to get together and speak French with people outside of their circle. Talking in another language makes them more open. It gets personal and the conversations are very interesting. So many people have told us how they are grateful they are, how they look forward to it, and have met great friends through it.
What else should I know?
A: What course levels are offered and how long does a course last?
M: We have levels 1-7, from beginner all the way to conversational. We’ve had motivated and dedicated students who started in level 1 and are now in a conversational group.
Classes are 8 weeks long. After one level is complete, the next level starts after one or two more weeks. We encourage people in the lower levels to keep going. We don’t want students to risk losing momentum once they’re on a roll with the language.
A: What is the future of Cou Cou?
M: We just launched in Coucou in LA. One of our first teachers in NY, Margo, just moved there a year ago and is starting the program there as well as giving lessons at the Netflix office there.
A: I can’t leave without asking you one more thing. In your Parisian opinion, where can a girl get the best French delights here in New York?
M: Well that’s hard to say and I get asked that a lot, but whenever I have a craving for good French cheese I go to Murray’s. They have a great selection. And Bien Cuit in Cobble Hill has very nice pain au chocolat and croissants.
A: I will definitely be making a stop there on my next visit. (Review to come on le blog!)
I want to thank Coucou for inviting me in to check out their classes. The warm welcome I felt from Marianne and Pia excited me to continue learning French with them. If you’re looking to challenge yourself and have some fun while doing it, start to learn French with Coucou; you won’t be disappointed.
Check out their locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Los Angeles.
I’m typically not a cold weather destination traveler, but after being convinced by my other half to take a fun road trip adventure to Mont Tremblant, Quebec, I conceded. I’m happy to report that this snow covered winter village exceeded my expectations in every way! Not only is the landscape absolutely stunning to look at, but I experienced the true beauty of winter in all its glory. Between dog sledding, an outdoor scandinavian spa in subzero temperatures, and some of the most delicious food, this was a trip that will be in my memory forever.
Check out this video for a few Mont-Tremblant highlights. Keep scrolling below for the full guide on where to stay, what to do, and what to eat in Tremblant!
Mont Tremblant is just over a 7 hour drive from New York City. If you get tired by hour 5 or 6, make an overnight stop in Montreal, Quebec. With a great selection of lodging options, you’re sure to find something right downtown with plenty of great restaurants within walking distance. I had taken over driving during the last leg of the trip and to my surprise, Phillip booked us a night at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth (I think our recent binging of The Crown influenced that!) I was so excited to be back at one of my favorite hotel chains with my favorite le labo products! We stayed at the Fairmont, Sonoma on one of our first trips together and it was love at first night. Spoil yourself a bit and stay for the night!
Arriving just past 9 p.m. with hungry bellies and in need of a cocktail, the concierge recommended we try The Dominion Square Tavern. The jazz age ambience and food at this hotel bar was the perfect Canadian greeting. A wonderful wine list, goat cheese stuffed cornish hen served with fresh roasted vegetables, and a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream was the warm comfort food we needed after a 6 hour drive. Don’t miss this place if you ever find yourself in downtown Montreal.
Grab something for the road
Before checking out of the Fairmont, check out Marché Artisans for a variety of delectable cheeses, a bakery, and a wide selection of French and Canadian delicacies. Their chocolate and maple syrup game is on point. I found myself admiring all the nooks and crannies of the market. There’s another corner of the hotel lobby to check out if you just want to chill and get some work done.
There are a few different areas within Tremblant, but the Tremblant Pedestrian Village is your best bet. It’s within walking distance to the all the restaurants, shops, and slopes. So when you’re enjoying an après ski vin chaud, you don’t have to worry about driving even just a little bit!
Tremblant isn’t just a ski destination. There is so much more to do! One of the highlights from the trip was dogsledding The Tremblant Activity Center set us up with the dogsledding.
Scandinave is the place to go if you’re looking for total relaxation. Massage, scandinavian baths, a relaxation room and even a cafe will transport you to complete bliss. Truth be told, this is what convinced me to go to Canada over the Caribbean!
Dogsledding was a super special experience. Despite it being the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced (it was -17 fahrenheit that day), I would do it again in a heartbeat. As you arrive to El Diable golf course which turns into a dogsledding destination in the winter, you are greeted by 60 beautiful huskies. They are so excited to see you and extremely friendly. You get a quick, but helpful lesson on how to ride the sled. If you’re in a double, one person drives while the other one sits back and enjoys the ride. You’ll be guided by a pack of 5 dogs.
The course is mostly flat with some small hills that are easier to navigate than you think. Once you reach the midway point in the woods, there’s a cute little tent set up where you can enjoy the warmth of a space heater and some hot chocolate. This was a much needed break to warm up before turning around to finish our tour. The guides are friendly and kind. Ours was so quirky and fun. She loved practicing her English with us and I was proud of myself for speaking a little bit of French with her.
One of the guides will take some professional photos along your dogsledding adventure. They charge $10 for 3 printed photos or you can buy a CD with all of the photos from the trip for $25. Only problem is, who uses disks anymore?!
Make sure you get the right gear as well as hand and foot warmers. We wore 3-4 layers. Get a base layer pant with heat tech such as Columbia midweight stretch baselayer tight. Check them out here and here. The second layer can be another pair of leggings or fleece pants, and the third layer is snowpants. Get the right socks such as Kodiak Heat Plus. I found these to be extra thick and warm. You need a diesel pair of gloves and goggles too. Don’t mess around. Check these out. Make sure the label says they are good for VERY COLD temps.
This is not sponsored by Columbia, btw. It just happened to be what I got because I’m not serious about cold weather sports and it was an affordable option for what I planned to do on this trip. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the cold, you may want to invest in a different brand, but I found these to be sufficient.
Scandinave is a unique spa experience. The spa is equipped with outdoor hot tubs of all different temperatures. It sounded like a really cool thing to do, but I was also pretty intimidated to be in the subzero temps in only a bathing suit. Verdict: totally worth every moment!
Book a a 50 minute massage in the morning when they first open, 9 a.m. Bring your own robes or they will charge you an extra $10 fee to rent one of theirs. After a super relaxing massage, you get access to all the baths on the premises, including the lake (if you’re crazy enough to jump in).
Picture it, you’re in a hot tub with a snow-covered hat and the steam coming off of the water into the cold air is blinding you. You can choose to go in the cold baths too, but, really? Some people did it. After all your muscles are relaxed, grab your robe and head into the steam room and sauna, followed by a cold water bucket. Ahhhhhhh.
There’s a relaxation room with magazines, couches, and lounge chairs. Grab a hot beverage, soup, or a cheese plate in the lobby cafe. I really have to make this trip a tradition. I’m already thinking about how I can squeeze another Scandinave spa day into this winter!
Eat and Drink
After being out in the cold,warm up at La Forge with a hot cocktail, such as a vin chaud (red wine with rum and spices, served with a cinnamon stick and orange slice) or hot shots! Grab a seat at the bar for spectacular views of the slopes. They have great poutine, French onion soup, and duck wings. Get the soup served in a bread bowl because, why not?
If you’re looking for something other than bar food, check out Le Q.G. Resto-Pub. For a mix of new American with a French twist, this small restaurant serves dishes such as carpaccio and tartares as well as a delicious catch of the day and of course, steak frites. The most inventive and aesthetically pleasing appetizer was the escargots served on a thin, crispy, croissant-like wafer.
Pizzateria had delicious personal pies good for two people to share. Get there early or wait until after the dinner rush because this place fills up quickly and I can understand why. I recommend the meat lovers pie.
Do not miss the AXE lounge bar at the Fairmont Tremblant. Bar bites can be enjoyed at their posh, yet relaxing bar. I’m not big on whiskey, but this drink garnished with espresso beans was fantastic.
MicroBrasserie la diable is a cool little stop off for craft beers and more bar food.
Café D’époque is the late night spot for dancing. The DJ plays great music and it’s a great way to work off all of that poutine and pizza!
Before you leave…
If you’re on your way out and just need that last fix of Poutine, definitely try Smoke’s poutinerie. They have many different varieties made to order. This was the winner of all the poutines we tried (and more than we care to admit!)
I hope this travel guide helps you curate your next winter escape. I would love to hear about all of your winter travels, cold or warm! Also, send me any questions you have as you plan your getaway. I love talking everything travel and would love to be of assistance in any way that I can. Looking for more travels guides? Check them out here and here.
Thanks for stopping by the blog. Like this post below or leave a comment!
Trust yourself and follow your heart
It’s hard to take a leap of faith and put yourself out there sometimes. But if that’s what it takes to manifest your dreams, then that’s what you have to do! Exactly one year ago I decided to launch this blog after a few years of toying with the idea. It was only when I surrounded myself with like minded and creative people that I made the decision that this is something I can and want to do.
Trusting the voice inside of me to take a chance regardless of the outcome is something I’ve struggled with. I tend to go with the “safe” choices in life. But I realized there isn’t any growth in the comfort zone. Try to listen to that little voice that speaks to you. What have you always wanted to do? What has held you back from taking the plunge? When the time is right, will you push the “what if’s” aside and take a chance on a dream?
Writing my intentions and aspirations down is one of the habits that has kept me accountable. Whether it’s embarking on a new adventure, taking a trip, starting a new routine, or planning my week out so that it includes a balance of self-care and work, I find that I’m more likely to stick to it if I write it down.
Don’t compare yourself to others; Instead be clear about your purpose
We live in a society that can sometimes set us up for disappointment. We see people who make “success” and “the good life” seem so easy. I’ve learned that everyone’s story is quite different. We can’t try to be like what we see in the movies or on social media. Most of it just isn’t real life. The way we choose to live has to be in line with who we are and what we really seek. Is it financial security, fame, influence, or is it more authentic? Make your purpose clear. It’s going to look very different than the next person’s version of that.
What really excites you? How do you want to live your life? Make sure that it’s fueled by love and right intention. If it comes from a place of authenticity and truth rather than envy or competition, then the end result won’t be as important or exciting as the journey is.
Create the life you love
Everyday is a new opportunity to recreate yourself and curate the life you want to live.
Letting go of the things that weren’t aligned with my purpose in order to give the energy to what made me feel alive as well as giving up the need to do it all has been so liberating. My time became more precious than ever. As much as my social life dictated my calendar in the past, I made the conscious decision to be more selective about what I committed to this year. This was the game changer.
Starting this blog came with its lessons too, but it has brought me so much joy to know that I’ve inspired others (even just a little) and I hope to continue to do so in this coming year.
Committing to a more consistent yoga practice and completing my 200 YTT was one of the most gratifying experiences to date. Embarking on my yoga journey was just the tip of the iceberg. I look forward to sharing more of the wellness side of my life and offering you many ways to create a life you love every day.
These are just a few things I’m hoping to continue in the new year. Stay tuned for a month filled of wellness and habits of self-care and self-love you can create in the new year.
What were your highlights of 2017 and what are your intentions for the new year? Share them in the comments below or as always on the instagram page.
Looking for a festive drink to serve at one of your parties or maybe a sidekick for wrapping up the gifts? Greet your guests with this cocktail that not only looks like Christmas in a glass, but tastes like it too!
With Christmas quickly approaching I’m savoring the last few days at home. This simple and delicious 3 ingredient recipe is sure to get you toasty and in the spirit of Christmas!
White Chocolate Peppermintini’s
- 1 bottle Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
- 1 bottle of The Special Edition Smirnoff Peppermint Twist Vodka (Scratch and sniff bottle!)
- Candy Canes
This simple 3 ingredient cocktail makes the perfect dessert treat too!
Check out the video here!
Thanks for checking out my video and please go give it a thumbs up on youtube if you liked it!
Looking for more festive Christmas treats that double as gifts? Check out this post.
May your day be merry and bright!
Let the countdown begin. Christmas is exactly 7 days away! I know people are busy doing their last minute shopping and wrapping up all of their holiday to-do lists, and because I don’t want to flood your inbox more than it already is, I’m combining the last 6 days of The Daily Croissant Christmas into 3 posts.
Here are a few more fun holiday festivities to do on day 7 and 8…
Curate Your Own Christmas Tree Crawl
As a New Yorker, I try to stay away from tourists at all costs, but the Christmas trees at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Natural History are worth a visit during the holidays. Start on the Upper West Side with a Christmas cocktail at the NYLO hotel and an origami tree at The Museum of Natural History and end on the Upper East Side with the MET and dinner at a fantastic Italian restaurant just a hop, skip and a jump from the museum.
A Sight to be Seen
The Origami tree at the Museum of Natural History is so unique. It takes the origami artists close to one whole year to envision the tree’s theme and construct all of the ornaments. They get their inspiration from the featured exhibits in the museum throughout the year. Some ornaments take days or even weeks to create. Then they have only four days to decorate the tree before viewing is open to the public the Monday before Thanksgiving. Make sure to get there before 5:45 on weekdays and look for special holiday hours daily.
The Tree at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I remember walking into the museum and being blown away by the beauty of this immaculate tree. It is a true representation of what Christmas is because it brings the birth of Jesus to the forefront with an ornate nativity.
Dine out after your tree crawl
Looking for a place to eat afterwards? Check out Giovanni VentiCinque on the Upper East Side for some delicious, authentic Italian fare. Just a 3 minute walk from the museum and you can be sipping Italian wine and eating some of the best cacio e pepe I’ve ever tasted!
Christmas Inspired Cocktails
If you’re looking for some festive holiday cheer, check out the NYLO hotel on the Upper West Side. The bar is small, but sufficient and the decorations are beautiful. They also have a pianist if you get there at the right time!
Last year they offered Shakespeare inspired Christmas cocktails like a Shakespeare’s Globe and Lady Macbeth’s secret recipe (featured below). The glass is my favorite part!
Stay tuned to day 9 tomorrow for more Christmas inspired cocktails that you can make at home!
On the 6th day of The Daily Croissant Christmas, I urge you to take a holiday timeout for some self-care!
Forget your to-do list, kick off your shoes, and give yourself a little midweek pampering! With the hustle and bustle of the holidays we can really neglect our own self -care. Skip your yoga class and go shopping instead; rush out of the shower to get your wrapping done; stay up late scouring the internet for that perfect gift just to wake up a few hours later and do it all over again.
We’ve all been there. As much as we try to achieve balance and stick to a self-care regimen, the holidays stress us out and we need this downtime now more than ever! Luckily you still have some time to get everything on your list checked off. What you need right now is to forget about rushing around and schedule in some time for yourself!
About a month ago, I wrote about the benefits of incorporating more rest into your life. Coming from someone who is always on the go, I know how hard it is to just be still. It still feels odd some days when I have nothing on my calendar after work. But I have learned to embrace the moments of stillness and I’m getting creative about how I pamper myself without splurging!
Here are 5 ways to kick back and pamper yourself:
1.Give yourself an at-home facial
There are few things in the pampering department I love more than a facial. But it’s the holidays and I’m trying not to spend money on myself (not easy), so a facial is just not in the budget right now, but a $5 face mask is!! Oh yea, I picked this one up at H-mart at the Korean beauty counter. Score!
I’ve also been really into the sephora eye masks that run from 4-8 bucks. Worth it! Wash or exfoliate your face before using the mask. Put on some chill tunes, turn your phone on airplane mode, and sit for 15 minutes of pure bliss.
2. Light your candles to create a relaxing atmosphere
I’m currently loving the CHILL candle from bath and body works. It’s a calming lavender spruce made with essential oils. It’s currently sold out online, but I got mine in the store and it was on sale!
3. Diffuse Essential Oils
Speaking of essential oils, I’m diffusing my oils now more than ever! There are so many health benefits of diffusing oils at home. Use lavender for a calming effect. Feel like you may be coming down with something? Use On Guard, DoTerra’s protective blend. It is known for its ability to boost the immune system when ingested and can boost cardiovascular function too. Frankincense is amazing for the brain, concentration, and also great for the skin. Add a few drops to your moisturizer and apply for anti-aging benefits and brightening the skin. I’m a wellness advocate so if you need anything, you can order from me directly here.
I’m currently diffusing a combination of the three oils mentioned above and I love that I’m getting the calming, healing, and anti-anxiety properties all in one!
4. Take a long shower with some good products
This is such a luxury if you ask me. Over the summer I discovered L’occitane’s Amande shower and body oils and I am hooked! If you’re looking for a special gift and still unsure what to get, check out this great gift set that includes both products! You can also pick out a few free samples upon checkout. Grab the Divine eye cream. It truly is divine. Another inexpensive gift is the bath and body works stress relief body lotion. I love how this smells. It has been a go-to of mine for as long as I can remember.
5. Dive into a good book!
Put the screen down and grab a physical book. I am guilty of spending more minutes than I’d like to count scrolling through instagram, but one of my intentions for the new year is less screen time and more book time. Reading online is too much of a distraction for me. I’m currently reading a lot of yoga books to deepen my practice and my teaching. Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith is all about the psychology of the chakra system as a path to understanding yourself. What are you reading?
Schedule one hour between now and Christmas to pamper yourself without breaking your holiday budget!
How do you pamper yourself? Share some ideas with me here or on instagram for a chance to win a little pampering gift set for yourself!
Affordable Homemade Christmas Gifts!
Edible Christmas gifts never go to waste, especially when they’re homemade! When peppermint bark hits the shelves around the holidays, it’s not long before I snag some for myself. It’s not for everyone, but I happen to love the combo of peppermint with chocolate of any kind. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, anyone?
You can get some really fantastic peppermint bark in the stores, but the good stuff can run you anywhere from $20-$40. Ahem, Williams Sonoma! (I blame my aunt for getting me hooked on theirs at a young age!) So, this year I decided to make my own for a fraction of the price!
I got 2 pounds of good Ghirardelli chocolate on sale for $7, a pack of candy canes for A BUCK (!), and peppermint extract for $3. Then I just grabbed a few small bags at target to wrap it up as gifts for some friends.
A homemade Christmas gift is not only an excuse to stay indoors and make something delicious with your family, but it’s also an inexpensive gift idea for those special co-workers, doormen, or whomever you want to give a small, but thoughtful gift.
I found a simple 4 ingredient recipe here that will take you under an hour to prepare. The trickiest part was being careful with melting the chocolate. I haven’t done this in quite some time, so I watched a youtube video and now I’m a pro! Fast forward to the 2 minute mark to skip right to the chocolate melting tutorial. It actually wasn’t hard at all, you just have to be extra careful about not getting any moisture into the chocolate. Be prepared to let it cool overnight or for a few hours. You can refrigerate it and then break it up into pieces the next morning.
- 12 ounce bag good-quality semisweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- 1 pound bag white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 candy canes or 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed
I didn’t refrigerate mine because the recipe didn’t tell me to, but I wish I had. When I broke mine up some of the layers came apart, but I’m okay with it! They did not come out perfect, and that’s what I like about it. It’s my own creation and I made it with love.
I always grab a few different sizes of gift bags when I’m shopping for wrapping paper and such. I got a treat sacks from the target dollar spot for 40 cents. The are cute, decorative, and easy! I also had plastic treat bags from the dollar store. I put the bark inside the plastic bag first, then into the treat sack and voila! I was done wrapping my homemade gifts. How easy was that? I added a candy cane to the outside of the bag and threw in a few Andes candies too!
My only problem was eating the bark as I was wrapping it. So hard to resist!
May this recipe or any other at-home baking be one of the simple pleasures you can enjoy around the holidays! I’m excited to gift these to a few special people in my life that may not even know that they’ve brightened some of my days.
What other homemade gift ideas do you have? Share in the comments or on our instagram page.
Ideas to Make Christmas Memories!
Make New Traditions, Revisit Old Ones
Yesterday I played hooky from work to make Christmas memories with my family! We saw the Christmas Spectacular (aka The Rockettes) at Radio City Music Hall and it was everything I hoped for! Seeing the Christmas show was a family tradition growing up, and I haven’t been in over 20 years! The childhood nostalgia was real. The show has changed since I last saw it and some really cool features were added, like a 3D experience and one of the best Rockette costumes I’ve seen! It was so special to bring my niece to see the show this year. The way her eyes lit up the moment Santa arrived was priceless.
If the Christmas show isn’t your thing, there are plenty of shows and holiday entertainment out there! It can get very cozy and easy to stay indoors this time of year, but make sure to spend some time out in the crisp air appreciating the season! Take a drive around the neighborhood to see all the houses lit up and decorated.
New York at Christmastime
Is there a more festive place to spend Christmas than New York City? I always get in the spirit of the season when I watch the tree lighting on T.V, or better yet see it in person! I love to peruse the Christmas markets at Grand Central Station, Bryant Park, and Union Square. Watching the ice skaters in the park with a cup of hot chocolate is such a simple pleasure I enjoy.
After visiting the Rockefeller Center tree, walk along Fifth Avenue for some of the best holiday window displays. Saks currently has Snow White themed windows if you’re a fan! Then stroll over to Bryant Park for a snack while you shop the market. There are over 20 food and beverage vendors in the market this year. My niece wanted doughnuts and I highly recommend the Doughnuttery for mini fresh fried doughnuts with over 20 flavor options. I got the Paris time flavor because what other flavor would I get?!
Memories over Things
If you haven’t yet noticed the theme of the Daily Croissant Christmas, I’ve been trying to highlight the simple pleasures of the season without the need to acquire more stuff. I love gifts, but the most precious gift of all is time spent with the ones you love. The moments savored around the tree, serving with your friends, or just simply recalling all that you’re thankful for instead of what you lack are a much better investment of your time this season.
If you spend time with your loved ones, the memories you create will last a lot longer than any gift you could buy them.
Happy 4th day of The Daily Croissant Christmas! What fun activities and outings do you have planned for the upcoming weeks? Leave a comment below or on the instagram page.
An ornament to decorate my tree!
Make decorating your tree a fun night in. Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn your Christmas music on, and decorate your tree!
Picking out a tree
I made my annual visit to Stew Leonard’s this weekend to pick out the perfect Christmas Tree! The staff at Stew’s makes the process painless. You don’t even have to touch your tree until you get it home! They’ll tell you about the different types of trees they have and show you as many as you want until you find THE ONE!! It only took me 4 or 5 tries before I found mine! Tree, that is.
Decorate with a Purpose
When you’re going through your ornaments, do they make you think of anything special? Every single one of the ornaments I put on my tree is significant to me. It’s either from somewhere I’ve traveled or a gift from someone dear to me. I don’t clutter my tree with copious amounts of ornaments, rather I spread out my favorites so that I can appreciate each one. And I don’t rush to do it either.
Savor the experience
The first day I get my tree I let it hang out for a day or two and then I put the lights on. If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll start going through my ornaments and get all sentimental! My Jack and Gus ornaments- Mickey D’s happy meal toys I got when I was a kid- are two of my favorites! Then, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and get to it! After an hour or so of decorating and admiring my tree, I’ll take a little break. Maybe I’ll go back to it and maybe I’ll hold off another day.
However you decorate your tree, enjoy the act of doing it. Don’t just throw it up without setting the mood to get in the spirit of Christmas! Consider getting someone a special ornament for Christmas this year. It’s the gift that will keep on giving for years to come. Surprise a friend by sending a personalized ornament in the mail!
Happy 3rd Day of The Daily Croissant Christmas! Are you enjoying it so far? Leave a comment below to let me know! You’ll also be entered to win a very special Christmas ornament for your tree! I’ll announce the winner on Saturday, December 9.
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A self proclaimed Francophile in NYC with a love of wellness, fashion and travel. Sharing all the hidden gems I find along the way.
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