Stay fit at home

Staying Fit During the Cold Holiday Season

It’s easy to be focused on getting in shape leading up to the summer months, but once the cooler weather arrives and we say goodbye to swimsuits and shorts, many people seem to lose that motivation. Even worse, the holiday season coincides with the cooler weather and we go from eating leftover Halloween candy to Thanksgiving meals to multiple holiday parties with rich food and irresistible sweets.

So what can you do to stay fit during the colder holiday months?

Water – You’ve heard it before, but drink LOTS of water. Besides the health benefits of drinking water, it can also suppress hunger leading you to eat less food at those holiday gatherings.

Endurance TF3i Folding TreadmillStay Active – Whatever you do, make sure that you keep moving. When it’s cold outside, it can be difficult to convince yourself to get out of your cozy bed in the morning to exercise. If it’s too cold outside, jump on a machine like the Endurance TF3i Folding Treadmill in the warmth of your own home.  Further, with holiday family gatherings, we quickly make excuses that we have no time, but don’t buy into these excuses. Make exercise a priority and schedule it into your routine so that it doesn’t get overlooked. In the post How I Stay FIT During the Holidays, Tara suggests working out in the morning to get it done. She says, “No one wants to miss out on family fun, games, treats, and memories so they can go hit up the local gym.  So, just make it happen first thing in the morning and then you get to forget about it the rest of the day!”

Moderation – Especially in the height of the holiday season, you may find yourself missing exercise more often than you’d like, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to give yourself a break sometimes. Of course moderation is key! In the post New Year’s Resolution Reboot, it states, “Generally, you will need to burn around 500 calories more than what you eat per day for a whole week to lose about a pound.” Be realistic and know that this may not be likely during Thanksgiving week, especially if you’re on the road or have more than one group with which you share a Thanksgiving meal. But at the same time, you can make good choices like stopping after your first plate of food instead of going back for seconds or deciding to drink water instead of soda.

Accountability – Finally, don’t try to go at it alone. Find someone who shares your desire to stay healthy no matter what the season and encourage one another in your journey.

Don’t be intimidated by what this holiday season can do to your health. Rather set yourself up to enjoy the season and stay healthy while doing so.

If you’re interested in learning more about in-home exercise equipment that can help you stay fit, talk with AddvantageUSA. We have agents ready to help you find equipment to meet your needs!


Halloween day

4 Tips for a Happy Halloween Night (for adults too)

October has finally arrived, which means Halloween decorations are coming out on houses and fall festivals are popping up everywhere. Candy will practically be thrown at you every place you look, but are you ready for a fun Halloween night?

Consider these four tips to turn Halloween into a night for everyone, not just the kids.

Make it a Party

A party always makes a holiday more fun and is an instant way to involve your adult friends in this night which is often dedicated just to kids. Set up the party at a friend’s house in a neighborhood with houses close together. If you have kids, the trick or treating will be fantastic. If you are kid free, you will still have fun getting to see all of the little tykes coming through with their costumes. You can keep the menu simple with a big soup to share or some of these fun Ghastly Ghoulish Recipes. Everyone can chip in and bring an item so that the host doesn’t have to be responsible for it all.

Dress Up

Whether you are a kid or an adult, everyone can have a little fun playing dress up on Halloween. The kids may not need much encouragement to participate, but to make it more fun for everyone, have contests like best dressed, most creative/original, scariest, etc. for kids and adults. Encourage everyone to participate at least to some degree. Even those who are a little shy to jump in can find something to wear like these Darth Vader socks. It doesn’t have to be lavish, but dressing up helps get everyone in the Halloween spirit.

Spike (I mean Spice) it Up

A nice seasonal drink can always add to the fun. Be sure to have kid friendly drinks around, like apple cider or soda, but for the adults, have an adult friendly fall beverage around as well. Try one of these Pumpkin Cocktails or this Apple Cinnamon Fall Sangria for something festive, easy, and delicious.

Stay Safe

Finally, be safe while you’re having fun, especially if you’re taking your kids out to trick or treat through the neighborhood. Make sure everyone in your group knows the rules for safety and fun. Is everyone staying together or is it okay for them to run ahead? What’s the plan if someone gets separated from the group? How do they know which houses to visit and which ones to skip? Do they have on reflectors or lights (maybe glow sticks) so they can be spotted easily by cars driving by or by the adults in your group? Are they allowed to eat the candy before getting back to the house?

Halloween is a holiday that can be fun for all ages, so get ready to enjoy it like you did when you were a kid.

AddvantageUSA hopes you have a happy and safe Halloween this year, whether you are young or old!

Halloween Recipes

Ghastly Ghoulish Recipes for Halloween

Halloween is sometimes overlooked for its opportunity to be a great time for creative fun in the kitchen. We tend to think of Halloween only as a time for trick or treat, candy, and costume parties. These are all good fun, but at our house we like to add a gastronomic dimension to Halloween celebrations.

Of course, we didn’t do all of this on Halloween night when the kids were young and trick or treating. Then we would do one fun food thing before we went out to spook the neighbors. Now that the kids are older (some off to college) we do the big spread and have a party. (Warning: shameless commercial plug: this is a blog post about cooking. You know that great cutlery makes cooking more fun. Did you also know you can also use them to scare away Halloween psychos? Yes, you can.)

Anyway, here are some of the favorite appetizers from years past. Starting with appetizers: We’ve done dancing pretzel broomsticks for appetizers. Wrap your favorite pretzel sticks with a string cheese skirt. It’s easy, all you need is some string cheese, green onion, and pretzel sticks. Cut the string cheese in half and slice it long ways to make the broom. Punch a small hole at the top and push the pretzel through the hole. Wrap a bit of onion around it. Delicious.

Ghoulish Recipes

There is a desert variation on this theme. If you are headed out to trick or treat, you probably won’t want to add even more sugar to the meal. But, if you are having a party, try making Reeses broomsticks. Push a pretzel into the bottom of a mini Reeses peanut butter cup. Warning: these go fast, so make sure you make plenty!

Another fun finger food is the ever popular spider egg. Use your favorite recipe for deviled eggs. If you want some really orange yolk, add a few drops of food color. Don’t start with all of the yolk. Color small amounts until you get the right formula, which will be slightly different every time you do this. When you get it the perfect orange, add it to the whole bowl of creamy egg yolk. Stuff the eggs and set on a platter. Now take black olives and cut the spider parts. Place them on top of the eggs. You can decorate these with a mixture of mashed olive and mustard.

Ghoulish Recipes

All of our Halloween meal is finger food. For a salad we eat goofy ghouls on a slice of tomato. It’s a twist on the caprese salad, which is about as easy to make as anything you can do in the kitchen. Drizzle some good olive oil on a plate, something with fresh flavor. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Toss some basil leaves on top. Slice some plum or roma tomatoes and put a slice on each leaf of basil. Make some globes of fresh mozzarella di  bufala with a melon baller. Cut them in half and put the eyeballs on the tomato slice. To add the iris, slice some pitted olives. You can use green or black for the iris. For the pupil, punch a hole in the olive color you did not use for the iris with a straw. (As an alternative, you can slice stuffed olives.) Put the iris and the pupil on the white of the eye. Hello! Your salad is looking at you. I promise, a plateful of these goofy ghouls will give you the giggles.

Halloween Recipes

Finally, if you are doing a whole sit down to family dinner on Halloween, then you want to check this out. I want to give a shout out to a really creative chef whose idea I found while preparing to write this post. I think this is one of the best ways to present a Halloween meatloaf I have ever seen. And, you cooks out there know: presentation is essential to the imagination that is at the heart of a good kitchen. Great job, Megan at I think the meat hand looks like it was taken from Frankenstein’s creature after the fire.

Not Martha - Meat Hand

From AddvantageUSA, we wish you have a Happy Halloween. Trick or treat!

Mom and the Holidays

It’s Never Too Early to Start Thinking About the Holidays

Autumn is here, and the start of the new season ushers in many exciting things to come. Kids have settled into their routines at school, along with their many after-school activities. But beyond cooler weather, football games, and pumpkin spice lattes, autumn is full of excitement with holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Let’s be honest though, before the Halloween candy has been removed from store shelves, we start seeing Christmas trees and other holiday decorations overtaking stores in anticipation of the big holiday rush. Why wait for the big rush, when you can start buying gifts for your loved ones now?

In the recent post, One More Thing About Why We Love Our Moms, it discusses how moms are always thinking forward about what is to come. It says, “When the kids are trick or treating, mom is having a great time. But, she is also planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kids will be opening Christmas presents. Mom will be there, heart and soul. But, she also has an eye on the fact that school will start again soon and she has things she wants ready for that.”

So yes, Mom may be thinking ahead about the holidays and what needs to be done, but so can you. In fact it’s never too early to start getting ready for the holidays. How great would it be to have all of your gifts bought ahead and then be able to relax and enjoy the fun of the holiday season!  It would be so much better than feeling the stress of waiting too late and not being able to find the right gifts for the people you love most. In the post, Take the Stress out of Christmas by Planning Ahead, [email protected]pilingMoms agrees. She states, “By making some positive steps toward getting your holiday plans and needs in order now, you can spend more time enjoying family and friends when the season actually arrives.”

So go ahead and start thinking through your lists of who you will be buying for and what you would like to get them. Does your son want the Xbox 360 or has your wife been dropping hints for some time that she would love some diamond stud earrings? Just think how impressed she will be when you surprise her with them and even better when she finds out you put so much thought into it that you bought them months ahead. And again, the more you can get done now, the more time you will have to really take in the true joys the holiday season brings.

Visit AddvantageUSA and see the broad range of gifts we have for all of the people you will be buying for this holiday season. Or talk with one of our representatives to learn about our gifts for children, men, and/or women.  (888-601-5527)

Moms and daughter

One More Thing About Why We Love Our Moms

In the never-ending flow of (often superficial) self-help advice, there are innumerable slogans that tell us to “Live today.” “Be in the now.” “Live the Moment.” Somehow, this advice flows right by our mothers – and thank goodness for that.

Unconstrained by “the now”, moms are the most agile of time jumpers. They can recall when Joey’s first basketball team won its first game and Maria’s first role in a grade school play. Moms know how to join their kids in whatever is going on today with what will be happening in their future. Moms know how to look ahead, over the horizon, and plan for a moment that their kids won’t realize for a month, a year, or a long time from now.

So, we may learn one more way to appreciate the mothers in our lives by appreciating them for the ways they live in the past, present, and future all at the same time – especially the future.

When we are young we move from one big event to the next. We arrive at the first day of school, a birthday party, or a holiday without ever realizing that our moms have been thinking, imagining, and planning for the big day long before we do.

Take the first days of school. The kiddos are oblivious until a few days before the big event when, suddenly, they panic because summer freedom is about to disappear. But mom? Beginning somewhere just past the middle of summer, mom was living the first week of school and thinking of all that she needed to do before it arrived. She had a list: clothes, school supplies, lunches and snacks, carpools, and meeting teachers, along with afterschool activities such as sports, cheerleading, music lessons, dance class, math club, science club– all the things that coincide with the first days of school.

Mom begins to look ahead fairly early in the summer and by the time school starts she is doing a magical thing that moms do better than most anyone else –she’s doing two things at once. Mother is there with her kids, being a part of the moment, doing the practical daily chores, encouraging them to live well, do well, be kind, and enjoy themselves. And, at the same time as the kids are settling in to the new routine, mom is thinking about an upcoming birthday party or Halloween costumes.

Now, apply this magic over a whole calendar. When the kids are trick or treating, mom is having a great time. But, she is also planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kids will be opening Christmas presents. Mom will be there, heart and soul. But , she also has an eye on the fact that school will start again soon and she has things she wants ready for that. When school starts, Mom is thinking about a Valentine’s dance or Easter.

We do not mean to suggest that any mother does this perfectly, or needs to. Nor are we suggesting that our moms are automatons working for a future that never arrives. Mothers make mistakes, forget things, and experience moments of failure. Moreover, in the midst of it all, moms are also working, achieving personal goals, and enjoying friendship with other adults.

What we are saying is that mothers can teach us a lot if we look at how they observe the past, present, and future as a whole. For mom, time is something organic and elastic, and she uses it to bring together all of the experiences that make her life and her children’s lives as joyful and productive and satisfying as possible at any given moment, on any given day, during any month or year or lifetime.

The gift that mothers have to live in “the now” while at the same time imagining and planning for the future is not just to be appreciated, but also to be celebrated. This is one more thing to love about our moms.

Staub cast iron pot

Staub Makes Us Reconsider the Old Fashion Cast Iron Pot

Sometimes, the old fashion way is the best way. This can really be true when it comes to cookware.

These days, many people consider quality cookware to be only stainless steel or hard-anodized non-stick pots and pans. Many think of cast iron pots and pans as old-fashioned. Others have heard cast iron is high maintenance because a cast iron pot requires “seasoning” to have it maintain its smooth and non-stick qualities.

But, there is nothing old-fashioned about the Staub cast iron pot. The hard enamel finish is easy to maintain and does not require seasoning. Many professionals say that Staub makes the finest hard enameled cast iron pots in the world. Their pots will make you reconsider the “lowly” cast iron pot.

First, they are made of heavy iron and plenty of it. A thick iron bottom means the pot will disperse heat evenly. It will also retain heat for a long time, which means you can continue a slow cooking process after you turn off the heat. These pots will also keep food warm for a long time without heat. This means no scorching or burning. You get food that is the perfect temperature.

Then, when you learn more about the Staub hard enamel finish, you realize you are missing out on some great cooking.

  • The interior of all Staub pots are enameled with a matte black finish.
  • High-quality enamel resists thermal shocks and scratching, making care easier.
  • Ideal for searing, roasting and caramelizing food.
  • The enamel has anti-adhesive properties and requires no seasoning before first use.
  • Easy to clean, convenient to use.
  • Cadmium Free / Lead Free / PFOA Free / PTFE Free

Some chefs like the heavy frying pans. Others like the mini coquettes for baking individual starters, side dishes, and personal “mini” meals.

Staub mini coquettes

Our favorite is the 4-quart Universal shown at the top of the page. This is a really versatile pot. It is big, but not too big. It is not too awkward for everyday use. It has enough volume to cook larger dishes, including small roasts and cut poultry. It is the best size and shape for baking casseroles, frying chicken, and searing or braising both meats and vegetables. The tempered glass top lets you see what’s going on inside.

Best of all, Staub is great for dishes that you want to take straight from the oven to the table. The 4-quart Universal pot is perfect for most one-dish meals.

It measures 11 inches in diameter (141/4″ w/handles) and 3 inches in height (6″ w/lid & knob). The diameter of the base is 8 3/4 inches.

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Oven safe to 500 F and broiler safe
  • Suitable for gas, electric, glass, halogen and induction stove tops

The cooks at AddvantageUSA and our customers who like to cook tell us that Staub is a luxury item that gets everyday use. So, we are adding even more Staub products to our inventory. Look for more soon that you can add to your kitchen lineup.

Baroque Silver Dragonfly Earrings, Pendant, Ring, Bracelet

The Incredible Dragonfly in Art and Jewelry

Dragonflies arouse the imagination and dragonfly mythology has inspired art –poetry, paintings, totems, jewelry– in almost every culture and tradition. They are said to be messengers of joy, prosperity, and renewal. The imagination of the dragonfly arises from its unique characteristics, especially the fact that it transitions from one realm, water, to another, air.

The dragonfly begins its life in water. Dragonfly larvae live under the surface, some of them for as long as four years. There they eat almost anything, including tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, and other larvae. When they mature, the dragonflies move their heads above the water’s surface and will spend a few hours up to as much as a day adjusting to breathing air.

Once they can breathe they will crawl to land and begin to dry. As they dry their larval shell begins to crack. Eventually the dragonfly unpacks itself. The long body/tail that has been compressed will unfold like a telescope to the long tube-shaped body. Over this it spreads the familiar four translucent wings. Those wings play with light, or perhaps light plays with the wings. In any event, the effect is a rainbow of color that changes from moment to moment as the dragonfly moves.

With a little imagination on our part we can see the dragonfly as a metaphor of our own activities. We pass from our daily lives, “under water,” into moments of revelation and delight as we travel, daydream, pray, and meditate. You might ask yourself, “how are dragonfly art pieces reminiscent of my own spiritual journey?”



Wearing Dragonfly Jewelry is an old tradition around the world. When you wear dragonfly earrings, are you reminding yourself of the whispers of creativity that arrive when you least expect them? Perhaps, the dragonfly necklace reminds you of the magical feelings in your heart when you have a special insight that was years in the making, something that was percolating inside until it suddenly arrives with a flash of brilliance. It could even be that the dragonfly you wear reminds you of the incredible things that you can do with “wise hands.”Baroque Silver Dragonfly Earrings, Pendant, Ring, Bracelet

If the dragonfly speaks to you, then you know something of this connection. And, if you have never thought of the dragonfly this way, then you may want to give this fascinating creature some thought. You never know how it might inspire you. There are many sites that flit over the top of the dragonfly without considering much about the life it lives.

We suggest you start by thinking of the literal activities of this fascinating creature that is so much more than a “bug.” The Smithsonian has a good page where you can begin to learn more about the incredible dragonfly.

Groomsmen gifts from AddvantageUSA

Getting Married? Tips on Gifts from the Groom

Grooms have a much busier life these days than back in the day when men bought a ring, popped the question, said “I do,” and left for the honeymoon.

Okay, it was never quite that simple, but, if you are engaged to be married, chances are you have already discovered your bride wants you (expects you) to be involved. And, you are okay with that. But, you need to know the rules of the game. You do not want to be surprised – or to be surprising someone else. So, there need to be conditions.


First condition: you want clarity on the expectations.

  • What are my responsibilities? (This is the groom’s task list.)
  • What are the “don’t go there” places that are controlled strictly by the bride, mother of the bride, etc? Demand to know the boundaries so you don’t cross them.
  • What are the things you will do together and are expected to do alone?

Second condition: you want participation/consultation. It is not only your bride’s wedding ceremony; it is also yours. Most men are willing to have the bride and her mother plan the majority of the wedding, so long as there is good communication and general agreement about the couple’s preferences.

Third condition: you want to avoid unnecessary drama. Planning a wedding can be stressful. You want to emphasize the joy and fun of your engagement.

Here are a few suggestions to help ensure your happy life starts off on the right foot. We’re keeping it short and sweet.

  1. Keep the romance alive during the planning. Tell her you love her with small gifts and gestures that remind her you love her.
  2. Plan the honeymoon together making sure it meets her dreams.
  3. Choose one person (usually the groom) to be responsible for making the final honeymoon arrangements. Trust, but verify.
  4. Register together at your favorite places.
  5. Plan a bachelor’s celebration of marriage. Think steak dinners, a golf day, poker night, camp out, cigar bar, charter (fishing) boat, you know what you like. Avoid risks that would spoil the celebration, not just for the groom, but for all the men in the wedding party (no drinking and driving, no hospital emergency room). We have all seen the videos of members of the wedding party passing out during the ceremony. We all know how that happens. That is not the wedding video your bride has been dreaming about.

Get memorial gifts for your groomsmen, personal gift for the bride, and something that says “thank you” to her mother and father.  For your groomsman gift set think about engraved tie clips, cuff links, or a small pocketknife.  For her, something personal, perhaps a limited edition of her favorite book, artwork from a favorite artist, or a piece of fun (inexpensive) jewelry she can wear on the honeymoon. For her parents, consider having a graphics designer make a display of some honeymoon photos.

Check out AddvantageUSA for more ideas. Give us a call at 888-601-5527 and let us brain storm with you. We’ve done this before. We can help.