Holiday Gift Guide 2017!

It’s hard to believe it’s already mid December! This fall has flown by and it’s been an eventful past few months in Houston to say the least. From Hurricane Harvey, the Astros winning the World Series, and the first Houston snow in seven years, there’s been a lot going on here. I am very much looking forward to the holiday season, winter break, and 2018.  If you are still searching for gifts for Hanukkah, Christmas, or your white elephant gift exchange, here are some of my favorites for this year! Take a look at my 2016 gift guide too!

  1. Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 3.27.23 PMCast Iron Skillet (save) Le Cruset (Splurge) – If I could only use one pan forever, it would definitely be my cast iron skillet! It is highly durable and versatile and I love that I can use it on the stove and in the oven. It’s perfect for making a frittata, meatballs, steak, stewed chickens, and so much more. They last forever and get better over the years as the seasoning on the pan develops.

wine opener

2) Electric Wine Opener– Total game changer and makes opening wine bottles fun and easy for anyone. Simply press down and voila! Perfect for a white elephant gift exchange and you can find good quality options for $20 or less.

away bag

3) Away Carry on Luggage– For your friend always on the go, this is the ultimate carry-on that I’ve been eyeing for a while. It has a built in battery to charge a USB device anywhere, perfect for when you are held up at the airport. With various compartments to keep you organized, a TSA approved lock, and durability designed for life, it is in a league of its own. Tons of color options so your bag will stand out amongst a sea of black bags.

fitbit

4) Fit Bit Flex  – For your relative whose into fitness or looking to up their step game, the Fit Bit flex is the perfect motivator. I’m obsessed with mine which I received as a gift (Thanks, Brittany!). It reminds you to move every hour, can display your texts and calendar reminders, tracks your workouts and sleep, and even has quick workouts built in and meditation routines. Battery life is a plus over the apple watch, and I like that it doesn’t show you emails or more bells and whistles- it is the perfect amount so you aren’t overly plugged in.

5) luster-glass-candles-xHoliday scented candle– When you wish you have a fire place but don’t, a big candle with a wintery smell is the next best thing! I’ve been obsessed with the large silver luster candle from West Elm called “A chill in the air”.  Currently sold out online but can find it in some stores. It seems fresh and wintery and there is something gratifying about lighting a big candle that you know won’t burn out quickly. Anthropologie also always has a great candle selection and they currently have 25% off.

diffuser

6) Diffuser– What are the holidays without warm inviting smells? If you can’t have a candle in your office or want something that lasts longer, a diffuser is a great alternative. It also makes the room smell like a spa retreat. I’ve been enjoying using a lavender scented essential oil in mine before bed. My favorite brand is Saje, check out their Good Cheer festive collection. You can set a timer on your diffuser and leave it on while sleeping, unlike a candle!

cooking classes

7) Cooking lessons- Nothing is better than gifting an experience in the kitchen. It’s a great chance to relax with your loved ones and enjoy a meal together while learning new skills. This is a perfect option for your hard to shop for parents, aspiring chef friends, or a bonding gift for you and your significant other.

foodie chef1

If you are looking for a personalized experience my dear friend Morgan, The Foodie Chef, hosts private cooking lessons in your own home! She is so personable, talented, patient, fun, and creative. This is a perfect activity to do with your whole family to enjoy a special meal together while learning new cooking techniques.

well done cooking

If you are looking to earn a cooking certificate, check out Well Done Cooking Classes in the Heights. I have completed 17/20 courses for my cooking fundamentals certificate there so far and have loved the experience and new skills! It is much more affordable than other cooking certificate programs, the instructors are awesome, and I’ve enjoyed being able to go at my own pace over the course of a few months. They also offer social classes and date night cooking classes.

scarf

8) Blanket Scarf – Perfect accessory to stay cozy when traveling on a plane or headed to the snow. Love this color and texture. Great for friends or your grandma, or anyone who is always cold!

tile mat

9) Tile Mate- Anything finder. For your friend or sibling who is always losing their keys or phone…. this Bluetooth tracker attaches to anything you don’t want to lose so you can find it fast! Even if your phone is on silent and you can’t find it, the Tile mat will make your phone ring and will help you see where you had it last.

GRANOLA

10) My Favorite Indulgence Granola – The perfect hostess gift, stocking stuffer, or treat for your foodie friends. My sweet and talented Aunt Vicki created this delicious irresistible granola that is slow roasted and made in small batches with non-GMO ingredients. It is delicious on top of yogurt, smoothie bowls, or with milk. My favorite flavors are pumpkin-spiced and chocolate-mocha.

Wishing everyone a happy, safe, and meaningful holiday season and new year!

Sweat Sunday- Yogaleena 

After a year and a half in Houston I think I have finally found my studio soulmate: Yogaleena. I’ve been searching for my favorite yoga spot for a while now, but hadn’t found my go-to studio. We are lucky that there are a ton of great yoga options inside the loop, but they all seem to have their flaws which has kept me from becoming a regular. Whether it’s parking issues, overcrowded classes, or boring music during class, I hadn’t felt truly at home at any studio until trying Yogaleena on a whim last week.


I signed up through ClassPass and had no clue what to expect when I went with a coworker during a lunch break for a 45 minute “flow on the go” class. Parking was a breeze and when I walked in, it felt like I had entered another world – a sort of Zen, retreat oasis right off of Shepherd! The studio is charming and filled with whimsical touches everywhere.


We were warmly greeted by Carolina Vennie, the owner and instructor for the class. She is such a sweetheart and inspirational teacher – the yoga scene here needs more like her! Carolina was born in Chile, but has lived all over. She practices Yoga to unwind from the corporate world. She recently  decided to quit her job in big oil to follow her yogi dreams and open a hidden gem of a studio.


Carolina’s teaching style is upbeat, supportive, and inspirational.  She also has a killer soundtrack which makes class fly by and helps keep you motivated through the challenging moments.  I was impressed at how much we accomplished in just 45 minutes. Carolina’s class was a perfect combination of flow,stretch, sweat, and zen moments. It’s a great way to refresh during your lunch break. We were amazed at the personalized attention and the brief shoulder massage at the end was heavenly.
 I came back later in the week to check out the popular “Yoga Sculpt” class. This was my favorite class so far as it incorporates flow, strength training, pilates, and barefoot boot camp. It’s really a 3-in-one type workout and I definitely felt the burn the next day.   After class you can unwind with complimentary tea and cookies…need I say more? Check out their new first time member deals including 30 days for $30. I just hope it doesn’t become too popular of a spot! See you on the mat and may you retain your inner Om as you leave the parking lot and return to the madness of Shepherd…Namaste.