Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Christmas Jingles

by Natalie Dest

Nov. 1 marks the beginning of holiday music season. Whether you actively seek out Christmas tunes or hear them while shopping and in the car, it seems as though people are looking for ways to begin celebrating earlier and earlier.

Although this may be slightly annoying to some, it’s hard to resist the natural nostalgic feelings of the holiday when certain Christmas classics play. While you’re decorating the tree, drinking hot cocoa or hanging up the family stockings, why not listen to the sounds of some of the best Christmas albums.

Rarely does the average person associate the season of Christmas with the sandy beaches of California, except when they’re singing along to “Little Saint Nick” by no other than The Beach Boys. Starting off the “best of Christmas” list is the iconic boy band’s holiday album “Christmas with The Beach Boys.” These rock legends released this album back in 1964, which includes a mix of original Beach Boy songs, including surf rock riffs on classic Christmas melodies like “White Christmas,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” If you’re seeking an upbeat, funky, get-your-feet-moving holiday album, this one is worth taking a listen to.

Following The Beach Boys is another music legend, Elvis Presley, and his “Christmas Album.” “The King of Rock and Roll” takes first place for the best-selling Christmas album of all time, released back in 1957. This record mixes the King’s iconic blue musical roots aligned with slow, jazzy tempos that deliver the feeling of sitting by a fire while sipping hot chocolate. The holidays would not be complete without listening to the hit, “Blue Christmas.”
Fast forward to 2011, Michael Bublé’s album “Christmas” is the a holiday album to soothe the soul, all the while getting your holiday spirits high. Bublé’s voice is not one to be mistaken, his rich, deep vocals make each track unique. There is little new material on this album in terms of song choices, but he manages to put a romantic spin on each classic Christmas tune. Specifically, Bublé’s slower rendition of the Christmas anthem “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Popstar, Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” album, ranks at one of the most notable selling pop-Christmas albums of all time. Released back in 1994, Carey’s first-holiday record has always been in high demand, peaking at number three in its first week being released. The album includes the notorious “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which is considered a contemporary Christmas classic. This unforgettable song was first holiday song to sell a million digital downloads ever. If you’re looking for a pop-spin on classic Christmas tunes, this album is definitely the one to listen to.
The epitome of Christmas classics is an album by one of the most legendary singers ever, Nat King Cole. His record “The Christmas Song” compiles his best selections. Every track inspires nostalgia for Christmases past, as tunes including “Deck the Halls,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Caroling” are played.

Last but not least is one of the most notable Christmas artists, Bing Crosby and his original record entitled “White Christmas.” This collection of classic Christmas songs was released back in 1945, containing some of the greatest duets with both the Andrew Sisters and Carole Richards. It’s safe to say that this album is one that you always hear in the background during the holiday season but rarely attribute to Bing Crosby. Rememberable tracks such as “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Mele Kalikimaka,” have made this album the second highest selling Christmas album ever. His most famous track “White Christmas,” is still the best selling single ever, reaching sales in excess of 50 million.
Whether your holiday shopping, hanging decorations or gathered around with family, playing some of these classic Christmas albums will get you in the joyous mood. These albums can be foudn on Spotify, Apple Music or Youtube.

Meal Prep Made Easy

By Christie Stelly

Meal prepping may seem like a tedious task, but in the long run, it can and will save tremendous amounts of time, money and stress.

The majority of people, especially college students, are busy and will rely on eating out when it comes time to eat a meal. Planning ahead will prevent you from getting off track throughout the week.

Meal prep and buying in bulk can help save money in the long term and simplifies the process of cooking. You will no longer spend money eating out, which gets quite expensive quickly. If you meal prep, you are also less likely to allow food to spoil in the fridge before you get around to cooking and eating it.

You do not need to meal prep every meal of every day. If you prefer to cook a fresh dinner at home, you can simply just prepare your lunch meals. Eating breakfast at home can be easy, but if you find you are crunched for time in the morning, pack your breakfast to go. I prefer to prep my food for the entire week on Sunday night and it usually lasts me 4-6 days.

The tools you will need to successfully prep your meals include Tupperware containers,  a food scale, and a measuring cup. The components that make up your meals should include a carbohydrate, protein and fat source.

First, pick your carbohydrate, which could be sweet potatoes, white or brown rice, quinoa, vegetables or fruit. If you are someone that needs to pack your breakfast, you could make oatmeal or bring a piece of fruit. Regardless of what carb source you choose, a vegetable should always be included. Micronutrients and leafy greens are beneficial in keeping your body running smoothly and are a good source of fiber.

Second, pick a protein. Chicken is the most popular choice because it is versatile and easy to store and cook. Other healthy forms of protein could be lean ground beef, turkey or fish. If you are cooking for yourself, you should plan on cooking anywhere from one to three pound(s) of meat, depending on how much you eat.

The last group is fats. Healthy fat options include nuts, nut butter, avocado, olive oil, eggs and yogurt. Typically, fats should be portioned smaller than the carbohydrate and protein options. Be aware of recommended portion sizes.

This is where a food scale becomes useful. It can be easy to miscalculate how much you are eating of each group. On the other hand, it can also be easy to underestimate how much you are consuming.

Don’t forget that you need to consume an adequate amount of protein in order to fuel your muscles and workouts. Weighing your meat or protein source is a good way to guarantee you are reaching your protein consumption goals.

Be wary of the portion size of peanut butter if you are consuming that as a source of fat. It can be considered a healthy fat but it is easy to eat double the serving size without even realizing it.

How to Meal Prep a Homemade Chipotle Burrito Bowl in Five Easy Steps

  1. Pick your carb, protein, and fat source. I recommend white rice, baked chicken, guacamole and asparagus to make a mock “Chipotle burrito bowl.”
  2. Begin boiling water to cook the rice in bulk. While you are waiting, season the chicken and bake it at 350 for approximately 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven (I typically bake two pounds of chicken). Decide how many meals you will have rice with and cook that amount accordingly (e.g. 5 meals with rice=cook 5 cups of rice). The water should be boiling by now, so you can cook your rice, according to the directions for the rice you choose. The guacamole was already made and bought from the store in this example.
  3. While the food is cooking, grab your containers used for storing the meals, along with a food scale and measuring cup. Lay the containers out on the counter. A serving of white rice is one cup, so measure out one cup of rice into each container once finished.
  4. Next, one by one, place each container on the food scale, zero it out and measure the chicken. A good serving size of chicken is typically 4-6oz. After you have done that, you can measure a serving size of the guacamole out as well.
  5. Lastly, cook the asparagus. Place tinfoil on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. The oven should still be heated from cooking the chicken. Season the asparagus with whatever you’d like (salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc). Cook for 12-15 minutes and then place an even amount into each of the meal prep containers.
  6. You may add other things to your homemade Chipotle bowls, such as corn, cheese, beans or salsa.

Meal prepping is favored by so many because it makes healthy eating easy! When you have prepared healthy foods in the fridge, it is extremely easy to make the right choices. It can save you time from cooking on a weekly basis and keep you from being wasteful.

For more meal prep ideas, visit bodybuilding.com.

 

 

Holiday Shopping Guide

by Brennah Dallaire

For the Whole Family –

L.L.Bean Wicked Good Camp Moccasins, are the perfect gift for friends and family that enjoy getting cozy while relaxing at home. These slippers are lined with premium Australian shearling, memory foam footbeds, and durable rubber soles. L.L.Bean offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and free shipping on all purchases. These slippers are offered in men’s and women’s sizes in several colors. The retail price is $79.

For the Coffee Lover –

Ember Temperature Control Mug is an innovative means to keep your coffee or tea hot for longer without the need to constantly microwave it. Users can adjust the temperature of the portable ceramic mug by logging into the Ember app on their smartphones. The mug comes with a charging coaster and a 30-day money back guarantee. The ceramic mug can be purchased at Ember.com, and select Starbucks locations for $79.95. Ember.com offers free shipping.

For the Outdoorsman or Outdoorswoman –

The Yeti Rambler is the perfect gift for those that enjoy the outdoors or attend Central Connecticut State University tailgating events. The 36oz. Rambler is made of 18/18 Stainless Steel, the thermos has double-wall vacuum insulation and is dishwasher safe. The Rambler features a No Sweat Design and the retail price is $49.99. The bottle can be purchased at Yeti.com or inside the L.L.Bean at Evergreen Walk, South Windsor.

For the Boardgame Enthusiast –

The popular boardgames this holiday season include Jumanji, Game of Thrones Clue and Monopoly, and The Original Mouthguard Challenge and Cards Against Humanity. These games can be purchased at Go! Calendars & Games and Amazon. These games vary in price from $15-$45.

For the Videogamer –

Gamers everywhere and anywhere can enjoy playing on the throwback gaming system, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch offers a portable gaming experience that can also easily be connected to a tv for at home high definition play. The “Joy-Con” controllers offer versatile play. The controllers can be combined into one device or separated to be used as two controllers. The Joy-Con can be used vertically, sideways with motion controls or buttons. The systems retail for $299 and can be purchased at Target, Game Stop, Amazon, or Nintendo.com.

 

For the Baker –

Stonewall Kitchen Holiday Jam is a favorite this holiday season. According to Brittney at the Stonewall Kitchen store in Evergreen Walk in South Windsor, the “Holiday Jam” is so popular the warehouse cannot keep up with the rate at which jars of this delicious jam are sold. The signature jam is a mixture of ripe pears, tart cranberries, and sweet raspberries and would pair nicely with a scone or muffin mix. The 12.5 oz. jar sells for $7.95 and the 4oz. jar sells at $3.50; perfect for a stocking stuffer.

Affordable Tech –

The Native Union Key Cable is a braided lightning to USB cable that also acts as a keychain. Never forget your charging cord again. This Key Cable is durable, makes charging convenient, and is reasonably priced at $29.95. This cable is available for purchase at Apple.com, Nativeunion.com and in select Starbucks locations.

Tech Splurge –

The iPhone X has finally been released. Although is back ordered until early December, those interested can pre-order it in hopes of getting it before Christmas. The retail price of the 64 GB device is $999 and can be purchased from Apple stores, online or with a cellphone service provider. Apple will also be releasing the new “HomePod”. According to an associate at the Apple store, Evergreen Walk the new Siri speaker will be available before Christmas and will go for around $300. Specs on the “HomePod” can be found at Apple.com.

Beauty –

Fenty Glow Gloss Bomb Lip Luminizer and the Tarte Limited Edition Treasure Box are best sellers this holiday season. According to Rakshan Khan, a Sales Associate at Sephora, Evergreen Walk, the Fenty Lipgloss is versatile and is flattery on all skin tones. The Tarte Limited Edition Treasure Box gives beauty buffs a sampling of the Tarte cosmetics line. The gift set features Amazonian Clay several eyeshadows, two blushes, two bronzers, a highlighter, a full-size eyeliner, a mascara and a matte lip paint. This set can be purchased $59. The Fenty lipgloss retails for $18. Both can be purchased at Sephora.

Gifts For a Cause -Gift Box is for those friends and family that are tough to shop for. The gift set includes travel size items including miniature versions of Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner, Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash, Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque, and Ultra Facial Moisturizer. The box set benefits Feeding America. The purchase price of $45 is estimated to provide 350 meals to the charity. Kiehl’s will pledge 100% of net profits from the sale of this set benefits Feeding America, up to $100,000.

Disney x Kiehls Gift Boxes are for those friends and family that are tough to shop for. The gift set includes travel size items including miniature versions of Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner, Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash, Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque, and Ultra Facial Moisturizer. The box set benefits Feeding America. The purchase price of $45 is estimated to provide 350 meals to the charity. Kiehl’s will pledge 100% of net profits from the sale of this set benefits Feeding America, up to $100,000. Everyone enjoys pampering themselves. Other versions including different products that are a part of this fundraiser are available at Kiehl’s stores and online.

On A Budget –

Holiday shoppers can’t go wrong with giving the gift of a Starbucks gift card. Pairing the gift card with a mug and a bag of ground coffee makes for a well thought out gift. Gift cards allow you to choose your own budget. The same could be put together with products from Dunkin Donuts or a local coffee shop including the Hartford Baking Company, and It’s A Grind coffee shop.

Timeless Gifts –

Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments offer a traditional but personalized gift. Hallmark stores boast dozens of themed, Christmas, holiday, sports, pop culture and musical ornaments that can decorate a Christmas tree or any home over the holiday season. They range in price and can be purchased at Hallmark stores on at hallmark.com.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

by Christie Stelly

Having a well-planned and organized grocery list allows you to spend less time inside the store, and prevents you from walking out with junk foods.

As the saying goes, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” This saying is especially true when creating healthy eating habits. Healthy eating habits begin with what you eat daily and what you buy at the grocery store.

The best way to create a grocery list is to separate it into three macro sections: fats, carbohydrates, and protein.

Fats are a crucial nutrient that the human body needs in order to function. Our bodies require ‘good fats’ in order to function optimally. Women, specifically, need to make sure they are getting enough fat in their diet because that is what helps regulate hormones.

Healthy sources of fat that you can purchase from the grocery store include avocados, peanut butter, eggs, oils, nuts and seeds.  Try to avoid saturated fats, as they are linked to a higher risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol.

Next up on the list are carbohydrates. These are another macronutrient that are essential to our bodies because they provide fuel and energy to muscles and nervous system.

Some women are under the false impression that carbs are bad and that they should avoid them when dieting.  On the contrary, good sources of carbohydrates have many great effects on the body, including being a form of energy.

Healthy forms of carbohydrates that you can buy are potatoes, vegetables, fruits, beans, rice, quinoa and oatmeal.

It is fairly easy to distinguish which carbs are healthy and which are not.  For example, which carb do you think would benefit your body more: an apple or a doughnut?  The apple would obviously be healthier because it has healthy sugars, fiber, and is lower in calories.

The last food group on your grocery list should be sources of protein. Protein is essential when it comes to building muscle mass.  Protein is specifically essential to the weight loss process because it keeps you from losing a mass amount of muscle. Protein also helps keep you full throughout the day, which is helpful when you are eating a limited amount of calories.

Some healthy sources of protein include chicken, turkey, lean ground beef, tofu, beans, fish, egg whites and Greek yogurt.

When it comes to the planning portion of the grocery list, if you are someone that is on a budget, try going to the stores’ website and taking a look at their circular before you go. You can browse through the sale items and find the healthiest options. If you know what you need ahead of time, you can look for coupons. Make a list according to each “macro” section before you go.

Once you arrive at the grocery store, try doing most of your shopping on the “outside” of the aisles to avoid processed foods.  Most of the middle aisles contain boxed foods that are heavily processed and high in sodium.

Stick to what you have on your list and try your best to not succumb to buying the pint of ice cream that is tempting you. If you do not keep unhealthy foods in the house, you are less likely to make poor food choices. This all starts with your grocery list and planning ahead.

It’s also helpful to follow your favorite grocery stores on social media. “Trader Joe’s List,” Trader Joe’s Official Instagram page, and “Whole Foods Greater Hartford” are great pages to get creative with healthy eating. Many local markets including Price Chopper and Stop n’ Shop have social media accounts that provide specials and featured items.

 

The Best Of Dallas, Texas

by Brennah Dallaire

Winter Break will be here shortly for students and faculty of Central Connecticut State University. Begin checking airfare prices now and start planning a trip to the “Big D”, Dallas, Texas.

Below is a guide to the best of Dallas compiled to include sightseeing destinations, events, where to get coffee, and the best of restaurants.

Sightseeing -The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

The city of Dallas holds a somewhat infamous history as being the city where former President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22 in 1963. President Kennedy was struck by two bullets. The second causing a fatal wound to his brain. Travelers flock to Dealey Plaza to remember the great President that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis and averted nuclear destruction. By far the most popular sightseeing destination for Dallas visitors is Dealey Plaza, where a plaque memorializes JFK and the Sixth Floor Museum that explores the life, death and legacy of the famous president. The Sixth Floor Museum is on the sixth floor of the Dallas County Administration building, the floor that used to house the School Book Depository. Visit jfk.org for tour information and ticket pricing.

Events – Mavericks Basketball game at American Airlines Center

If you have never been to a professional basketball game or even if you have, put a Dallas Mavericks game on your itinerary while visiting the city. The stadium seating allows every spectator to get a clear view of the players on the court. Enthusiastic announcers keep the excitement going throughout the game. Pick up nachos, beer, soda and more at concession and settle in for an exciting game in the company of friends. Halftime performers will wow you with their trampoline dunking skills. If you enjoy nothing else, you can say that you saw possible hall of fame player, Dirk Nowitzki play.  Ticket prices vary, but can usually be purchased for under $20. It doesn’t cost a fortune to root for the home team.

Shopping – Wild Bill’s Western Store

Wild Bill’s is just a short walk from Dealey Plaza, making it a convenient stop if you are planning on visiting the Sixth Floor Museum. Wild Bill’s carries quality cowboy hats, belts, boots, flannel and souvenir options. Pick up a “Big Shot” shot glass for a friend at home or purchase a pair of authentic leather cowboy boots. Employees are ready and willing to help. Prices are reasonable. If you’re lucky, you may run into an Elvis impersonator standing just outside the store.

Breakfast –  Yolk

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and Yolk boasts a menu big enough to satisfy any appetite. The huge menu features benedicts, oats, omelets, frittatas, french toast and pancakes. If you have a hearty appetite for the “Yolk All-Star Combo” which features: Two egg any style, two sausage links, two slices of bacon and a choice of two pancakes, french toast, or crêpes. Go Dallas big with a huge breakfast in the city.

Lunch – Whataburger

Whataburger is a Texas fast-food chain that Lyft drivers around the city rave about. According to the Whataburger website, the restaurant offers “100% pure American beef served on a big, toasted five-inch bun.” The burger is juicy, cheesy and huge. According to the site, there are 760 Whataburger restaurants nationwide but there are currently no Whataburgers in Connecticut or the northeast for that matter. Make Whataburger a priority on your restaurant itinerary.

Dinner – The Capital Grille

Budget your trip so you can experience fine dining at the Capital Grille in Uptown Dallas. A meal can cost upwards of $50 but is well worth the money. The waitstaff offers five-star services. The server will plate serve shared appetizers, unfold your napkins and place them in your lap, and refill drinks before being asked. They are there to offer menu recommendations and oblige any request. The restaurant is dimly lit, decorated with fresh roses and offers soft background music to enhance a relaxed experience. It’s the perfect spot to indulge with friends or go on a date.

Coffee – Urban Blend Coffee

A core food group that must not be forgotten is coffee. In any city in the United States, you are guaranteed to find a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts but what you may not find is an Urban Blend coffee house. Urban Blend Coffee offers a full menu of espresso, cafe, hot and iced beverages. The espresso is full bodied and is complemented by flavored syrups. Urban Blend is the perfect spot for a coffee break or brunch. Breakfast and lunch sandwiches are available in addition to frappes and smoothies. Follow Urban Blend Coffee @urbanblendcoffee to stay informed with seasonal specials before your trip to Dallas.