Self Care During the Holidays

Self care during the holidays | Kale and AleStress, sadness and depression are always difficult, but can easily be exaggerated in December, so self care is essential. Daylight is (much, depending on where you live) shorter. Commitments and expectations are increased as the holidays and end of year approach. Time fills so quick with parties, last-minute job tasks, baking, shopping, seeing people—the list goes on.

For me, this entire year has had its challenges. Personal time with myself and others has been pushed aside while trying to focus (mostly unsuccessfully) on other things. I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to give myself and my relationships more time recently.

When I’ve do that—be it in the form of a vacation, family event, happy hour with people I don’t often see or getting together with like-minded women—it has felt so rare and special. Every time it’s refilled my emotional tank and I walk away realizing I’m not taking enough time for this. Life’s too short.

With quality time being my primary love language, I’ve spent too much time and tears this year feeling sadness, guilt and anger for not making quality time for myself and the important people in my life. That is not OK.

Ways I’m Focusing on Self Care

This holiday season I’ve given myself permission to drop all non-essential things, be in the moment and focus on connections. I’ve tried to make this season as stress-free as possible. How?

  • Finding the most simple recipe for a cookie exchange when I know I’m not a baker
  • Buying a lot of wine at once so I can grab a bottle from the cabinet for at-hand hostess gifts
  • Only saying yes to things that are important to me
  • Trying to get people to forgo gifts (shopping and finding personal gifts is very stressful for me) and spend quality time (my love language) with them
  • Simplifying shopping by doing it online or shipping to store
  • Focusing on making memories
  • Focusing on self care, including working out, resting, drinking lots of water and using essential oils

Get Help

Are you feeling disconnected from what the holidays are about? Don’t deny your feelings, focus on how and why you feel that way.

The Mayo Clinic offers ways to cope with difficult times during the holidays, including:

  • Be realistic
  • Stick to a budget
  • Say no

See more tips on the Mayo Clinic website.

How are you handling all the holidays throw your way?

There is nothing wrong with sitting things out. Your personal health is the most important thing. I’ve had much more difficult years than I am having this year, and I learned so much to help get me through the hard times. If you need more help, please seek it. The National Suicide Prevention LIfeline is available online or by calling 800-273-8255

Happy holidays!

Hope everyone had a great time celebrating your holiday of choice and that it was full of great food, drinks and people.

I always use the holidays as a chance to make food I love but don’t often make, or to try food I haven’t made for one reason or another. Christmas day was no exception. Bill and I spent the day eating, drinking, hanging out and watching movies.

While making dinner, I made Christmas drinks for Bill and me: Amaretto and cranberry juice with a lime wedge. Perfect drink that is a great balance of nutty, tart and refreshing.

For dinner, we had a seitan roast stuffed with leeks and mushrooms to rival any tofurkey I’ve had and a colorful variety of vegetable sides: mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli with soy bacon, and raw butternut squash salad with cranberry dressing.

I skipped dessert and decided to make a snack for later, spinach artichoke dip in my small slow cooker and warm spiked cider in my large slow cooker.

In addition to a lot of great coffee-, food- and drink-themed gifts from my family and friends, I received from Bill a book I have had my eye on the past month, The Tipsy Vegan, which brings together food and drink into easy and delicious sounding recipes. I already want to try almost every one, and I’m sure many recipes, results and pictures will show up on this blog.

Hope you all are having a great holiday! What wonderful memories did you make or things did you eat, drink, give or receive this holiday season?

Last-minute gift: Holiday infused vodkas


Infused vodka | Kale and AleAfter coming across a festive cranberry-lime infused vodka (on where else, Pinterest!), I knew that would be a great gift for my friends who enjoyed my infused vodka post. I found cute airtight bottles at Crate and Barrel, and Ikea has something similar.

I made cranberry-lime vodka for Christmas and blueberry-lemon vodka for Hanukkah, but any combo that sounds good with the colors you want would work. (For example, strawberry-basil vodka would also work for Christmas, or use your friend’s favorite colors or flavors.)

If using berries, prick each berry with a fork or knife and put into the bottle. Every so often put a twist of citrus in the bottle until it’s almost full (only using about half the citrus peel per bottle — it’s strong!). Put about two tablespoons sugar in the bottle to cut the tartness and fill with vodka. Seal and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to give it to the lucky recipient. The vodka quickly changed from clear to the color of the berry used, but the vodka will need about a week to be fully infused.

I included some drink recipes with the gifts, but just about any infused vodka would be good with tonic water, orange juice (or many other juices), lemonade, ginger ale or citrus soda, to name a few mixers.