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Best and Affordable Cashmere Sweaters

Cold weather is finally here and that means it’s time to break out your favorite sweaters and nothing is as comfy, cozy and toasty warm as cashmere. Unfortunately, luxurious cashmere can come with a steep price tag. But we’re here to tell you that it is possible for you to wrap yourself in this fine fabric without breaking the bank.

Everlane, the brand that brought you those jeans you’re obsessed with also makes a gorgeous line of cashmere, which they recently launched to retail at only $100! Each of the 4 styles comes in a variety of colors (and has rave reviews from customers).

Everlane The Cashmere Crop Mockneck, $100;

everlane.com

And if you’re looking to really up your cashmere sweater game this fall, we’ve rounded up nine additional retailers that offer up some of the softest cashmere sweaters for under $200 because no one should have to suffer from itchy, scratchy wool all season long.

H&M

We love H&M for so many reasons, and one of them is for cashmere sweaters like this that don’t break the bank or compromise on comfort.Cashmere Sweater, $119; hm.com

C by Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s exclusive cashmere line, C by Bloomingdales, has classic styles in just about any color you can think of.Cashmere Crewneck Sweater, $99 (orig. $158); bloomingdales.com

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New Years Eve Party Inspiration Ideas

Planning to throw a party to ring in the New Year this year?  We have great ideas that are both easy and creative!

Plan Games

  • Make light of New Year’s resolutions by turning them into a guessing game. Give partygoers cards (download the New Year Playing Cards) and have guests finish the sentences with hopeful wishes―or tongue-in-cheek witticisms. Gather the cards, read them aloud randomly, then let the gang try to figure out who wrote what.
  • Print cards with these fill-in-the-blanks: “The bad habit I want to kick this year is ―――.” “The good deed I want to do this year is ―――.” “The person I want to be more like this year is ―――.” “The skill I want to learn this year is ―――.”

Pick Up the Provisions

  • Snacks: Let guests nibble on hearty little bites, as well as tidbits from gourmet markets, such as Bella Cucina Artichoke Lemon Pesto, Food Should Taste Good Olive Tortilla Chips, Sahale Soledad Almonds, and Tillen Farms Pickled Crispy Carrots.
  • Drinks: For a refreshing alternative to Champagne, try Prosecco or nonalcoholic Twelve, a fizzy blend of fruit and herbal tea (twelvebeverage.com).
  • Dessert: chocolate-bar-fondue with fruit and pound cake for dipping, in a fondue pot.
  • Favors: Give guests parting gifts of good fortune. Pack up black-eyed peas (which bring good luck, according to southern tradition) in a box or cellophane bag and a recipe.

Prepare Food

No need for an elaborate menu. Serve these hearty bites for a relaxed but festive celebration.

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Good Books To Read This Holiday Season

Need a perfect excuse for staying inside and sipping hot chocolate this winter? Now is a good time to lose ourselves in books.These reads are perfect for escaping a snowy day and snuggling up by the fire.

Heather, The Totality by Matthew Weiner

From the creative genius behind Mad Men comes a chilling novel about the multitudes of the human psyche. Weiner introduces us to two disparate worlds: privileged Upper East Side Manhattan where Mark and Karen Breakstone live with their beautiful daughter Heather; and the world of former felon, now construction worker, Bobby from poverty stricken Harrison, New Jersey. From the outset, we sense that Heather and Bobby’s paths are destined to cross—and they certainly do—with sinister and surprising consequences.

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand

Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn.

It’s been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that’s about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they’ve experienced in years. And Bart’s safe return isn’t the family’s only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she’s finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn’t be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love — and some of the things we endure — about the holidays, Winter Solstice is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes — as everyone does — that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict — but how? — and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears — and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris — a cherished packet of letters in hand — determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and the perfect moment to escape to a charming English village! From the beloved author whose novels are “sheer indulgence from start to finish” (Sophie Kinsella) comes a delightful holiday story — funny, heartfelt, romantic and packed with recipes — perfect for the winter months.

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.

Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.

But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.

It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose — not yet.
One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid — smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way — prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.

Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…

Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love.

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At-Home Spa Treatments for Your Skin

If you love being pampered at the spa, but don’t want to pay for that invigorating treatment, then why not create your own rejuvenating experience at home? You can whip up some facial scrubs and masks, and create a decadent massage oil, that will leave you looking like you just left the spa, without spending a fortune!
We’ve put together a list of 5 DIY at-home spa treatments for your skin that you can use to enjoy spa indulgences without spending too much time or money.

1. Citrus Face Peel

Some spas charge up to a hundred dollars or more for a facial peel that simply burns off dead skin. But we have a way that you can get rid of old, tired skin economically, safely, and naturally. All you need to do is get a lemon, cut it in half, and massage it into your face for 2 to 3 minutes.
Leave the lemon juice and pulp on for 5 minutes, wash it off with warm water, and enjoy a clean and fresh face. The citric acid in the lemon is an inexpensive and gentle alternative to more costly spa skin peels.

2. Lavender Massage Oil

If you have aches and pains (or just want to unwind a bit), you may like getting a massage from time to time. And you might love the massage oils that are used on your body. To make your own massage oil, combine 1/2 cup of coconut oil with 6 drops of lavender essential oil. This massage oil smells great, is ultra-relaxing, and helps alleviate body pain, too.

3. Coconut Oil Deep Face Moisturizer

You can make your own deep facial moisturizer with coconut oil and some nice-smelling herbs or oils, or you can opt for using pure coconut oil. Every evening, instead of applying a store-bought face lotion, massage coconut oil onto your cheeks, nose, forehead, and eyelids. Apply it sparingly, but be sure that you use enough so your skin feels supple afterwards.

4. Milk Body Scrub

It’s easy to make a hydrating milk body scrub. Mix 1/2 cup sea salt, 1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk, 1 tablespoon almond oil, and 2 drops of lavender essential oils together. Lather your milk scrub all over your body when you’re in the shower. Allow it to soak in as you scrub your feet or wash your hair. Then rinse it off, and you’ll feel softer skin immediately.

5. Apricot Face Scrub

Treat your face to a DIY spa scrub by stirring together 1 cup of organic sugar, 1/4 cup apricot kernel oil, and 3 drops of pure almond oil together. This will give you a big enough batch of face scrub that you can store it (well covered) and use it for up to 3 weeks.
All you need to do is massage a bit of the scrub into your face every day to enjoy glowing, radiant skin.

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Girls Getaway Weekend to San Diego

Leave the husbands and kids at home! There’s nothing like a getaway to spend some bonding time with your girlfriends while discovering a new city. These weekends create unforgettable memories and also give you a much-needed recharge from the daily grind.

Where to Stay

San Diego is an enormous city with many different districts, some of which are basically cities in and of themselves. Most of the tourist attractions are located close to the downtown core, known as the Gaslamp Quarter, which is also the most walkable part of the city. This part of San Diego is close to the airport and has public transportation to many surrounding areas, making it perfect for car-less visitors. It is easy to find a good hotel deal in one of the many downtown hotels that cater to business travelers, like the Omni, Hilton, and Marriott.
If you have your own car and prefer a beach-themed vacation, consider staying in one of the many beachfront communities along the coast, like La Jolla, Mission Beach, or Point Loma. You will probably pay more for a hotel in these areas, but you will be able to enjoy a laid back atmosphere with prime access to the area’s beaches.

Where to Eat

With Mexico just a stone’s throw away, San Diego is the place to eat SoCal-style Mexican food. Fish and shrimp tacos are particularly popular. Some great places to try fish tacos are Casa Guadalajara in Old Town and Fat Fish in Pacific Beach.

San Diego is well known for its many craft breweries. Grab a designated driver and head out to one of the more established ones like Stone Brewery or Ballast Point where they serve up excellent pub menus with stellar pairings.

What to Do

Aside from beach frolicking (always an option), there are a ton of fun things to do with your girlfriends in San Diego. The Gaslamp District is a good starting point with its historic architecture, convention center, and the kitschy Seaport Village. History buffs can take the tram to the Spanish inspired Old Town area.

Then there is the iconic San Diego Zoo (it’s not just for kids), and the adjoining Balboa Park, which is decorated with numerous museums, beautiful gardens, and the Spanish Village Craft Center. The Old Globe Theater is a replica of London’s Globe Theater and shows Shakespearian and contemporary plays.
On a sunny afternoon take a ferry from downtown to Coronado. Here you’ll find lovely beaches, local breweries, and the historic Coronado Hotel, which was featured in the classic movie Some Like it Hot. San Diego enjoys near perfect weather year round, but be sure to get a travel insurance policy before your trip to better plan for the unexpected.

Where to Drink

Happy Hours are a huge part of San Diego culture and most of the bars downtown offer fantastic early evening specials with food and drink for up to half off. This is a great way to sample some of the many fantastic local beers. Some of the best happy hours in the Gaslamp Quarter are at Taste and Thirst, Las Hadas, and Funky Garcia’s.
Of course, if you’re feeling really crazy, Tijuana is just a short bus ride away. It’s easy to cross over the border for just a day or an evening, but you will need your passport. Many local companies offer pub hopping and brewery tours South of the Border, which will ensure that you return safely and on time.

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The Easiest and Best Brussel Sprout Recipe

Brussels sprouts are a popular side dish this time of year, and I love to pair sweet ingredients with their lightly bitter tang. This side dish is easy, very satisfying, and a great way to please any appetite.

Ingredients:

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Pancetta
  • Fig Jam
  • Garlic salt

Directions:

  1. Cut Brussel sprouts in half lengthwise.
  2. In a pan Brown pancetta (let oil cool).
  3. In a large Ziploc bag add Brussel sprouts, pancetta with oil, fig jam and garlic salt).
  4. Shake all ingredients to coat.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 min or until tender and brown.
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Best Gifts For Your Man This Holiday Season

Getting a gift for your boyfriend (or ANY man, for that matter) during the holidays can be stressful. Reading his mind is basically impossible, but if you’re in panic mode, these goodies will help get you started.

For the Fitness Guy: New Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker

Because now he can track workouts, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes and steps. Plus, monitor how long and how well you’ve been sleeping (YES!) and can even receive texts and calls at a glance when you’re on the move. Oh, and did we mention it’s water resistant?!

For the Groomer: Birchbox for Men of the Month

Best Seller: Deluxe guy-related grooming and skincare (and more!) product samples delivered to your door every month. Let him test out new things each and every month. He’ll love it!

For the Techie Who Needs Answers:

New and improved and getting smarter all the time. Hands-free, ask Alexa anything and she’ll answer. For real, she has 1M answers. It’s pretty fun and helpful all at the same time. Weather, questions, horoscopes, stocks, traffic? Done and done. Plus listen to music because, music!

Best Holiday Inspired Cologne: Spicebomb

Very masculine scent and refreshing for any time of year, plus everyone is always obsessed with the bottle which, itself, is like a work of art.

For the Music Guy on the Go: New Bose SoundLink Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

He can bring this portable speaker pretty much anywhere. Plus, did we mention it’s water resistant (hello beach!). Experience up to 12-hours of playtime on full-charge thanks to the rechargeable battery. Oh, and it’s Bose so you know the sound quality is stellar

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Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Kids

One of the most exciting times of the holiday season is seeing kids’ faces light up with joy as they unwrap all the exciting goodies and presents. But sometimes figuring out what exactly to get the little ones can be a challenging task! We’ve rounded up the top stocking stuffer ideas for kids of all ages this season.

Sunprint Paper

Kids can put an object (like a pretty leaf or flower) on this photosensitive paper and expose it to the sun for a cool piece of keepsake art.

Star Wars Wind Up Toys

These little windup toys ($25) fit perfectly in stockings.

iPhone Charger Sticker Sets

With every teen sporting an iPhone this year, the easiest way to avoid losing identical chargers after sleepovers is to differentiate their charger with a cool sticker set ($13).

The Next Obsession

Fidget Spinners are so yesterday. Drop a Tumblstix into each stocking, and your kids will out of your hair learning new tricks for the rest of vacation. This new gadget challenges kids to use their balancing acts while giving them a serious hand-eye coordination workout. Bonus points for the light-up special effects.

Make a Match

This mini memory match game has 12 pairs of adorable illustrations of animals from all different kinds of habitats including farm, woodland, and safari—all on circular game pieces. Tucked away neatly in a little box, it’s a perfect stocking stuffer.

Finger Friends

This fingernail kit comes with 25 animal stickers that are perfectly sized for little digits. Look for tigers, pandas, monkeys and more!

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Recipe of the Week: The easiest Brunch Eggs EVER

Whether you’re prepping brunch for a group or cooking ahead for breakfasts for the workweek, you can never go wrong with a good old-fashioned egg! This Brunch Eggs recipe is super easy, delicious and will definitely satisfy your appetite!

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • shredded Munster cheese(Or your favorite cheese)
  • ground sweet sausage or links

Directions:

  1. brown sausage until cooked through in a non-stick pan
  2. Get an aluminum pan that is 9×12 or a Casserole dish
  3. crack a dozen eggs into the pan
  4. spoon on sausage over the raw eggs. distribute evenly ( you can also use chopped bacon)
  5. Sprinkle Munster cheese liberally over raw eggs and sausage.
  6. Bake at 375 for 10-15 min until set.

Serves 6-8

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Cool Stocking Stuffers for Dads

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s time to begin checking off all the people on your list.  This year, we’ve rounded up a few stocking-sized gift ideas to help you put a big smile on your dad’s face!

Even though stocking stuffers are small, it’s a great way to show someone you love how much you care. They can be a nod to a funny inside joke, a unique habit or a hobby. And while their size can lead them to being overlooked, stocking stuffers can pack a surprising amount of sentimental value.  Check out our favorites below:

Paracord Survival Bracelet

Anything “survival” themed is a hot item this Christmas, and this paracord survival bracelet is a great gift for any dad who loves outdoor activities like hiking, biking, hunting or rock climbing. It features heavy duty rope for the toughest situations, a compass, even an extra loud whistle. This bracelet comes in orange/grey or purple/grey color combinations and is super lightweight, so dad can take it on any adventure.

Beer Chill Sticks

There is nothing worse than a warm beer, and dads love gifts that help them keep their beers cold. Beer coozies are the usual go-to for stocking stuffers, but why not spoil dad with something even better? Chill Sticks are freezable inserts that replace a beer cap and keep any long neck beer bottle nice and cold while you are drinking it. The cap fits long necked bottles perfectly so that your beer will not go flat either.

ParasomEarhook Bluetooth Earbuds

These small, lightweight sports headphones would make a great stocking stuffer for any dad. They are designed with bluetooth connectivity for wireless access while dad is running, walking, biking or doing any other activity where he would not want pesky cords getting in the way. They have an adjustable ear hook for a custom fit and have amazing sound quality. These come in three color combos – solid black, black and green or black and yellow.

For the sports nut dad

Get your husband a pair of tickets to see his favorite team play. Encourage him to take your son or daughter to share his love of sports. Tickets range in price from $10 to several hundred dollars. Buy a pair of reasonably priced seats, or get cheap seats for the whole family. Available at Ticketmaster.com (price varies).

For the expecting dad

Slip the book The Expectant Father into his stocking. This is a complete month-by-month guide to help him through your pregnancy. It also includes facts, tips and advice for the daddy-to-be. Available at Amazon.com

For the Cigar Connoisseur

Besides ammo, cigars and mini bottles of booze topped the list of reader suggestions. If you know a guy who enjoys a good stogie every now and then, a few of his favorite cigars placed in his stocking will catapult you to number one friend/son/brother/nephew. You can usually buy cigars individually at your local cigar shop. $3-$10 for one cigar