On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

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Cyber Monday Ideas

Today is an important day for online retailers. It’s Cyber Monday. (Doesn’t that sound better than Black Friday?) Maybe you’re finishing your shopping before the kids arrive home from school, or perhaps you have plans to curl up with your laptop after dinner tonight. Or maybe, like me, you’re finishing your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your bathroom floor while your pathetic 9-year old hugs the porcelain.

So what do you give to someone who has everything he needs? For someone who doesn’t want anything but appreciates that you’re thinking of her? Or how about a gift that blesses the recipient and empowers the worker who created it? Here are 3 suggestions for today:

1. Shop with Samaritan’s Purse. This is the organization that flies Christmas shoe boxes around the world to underprivileged children. They also do a pretty amazing job of helping out in times of disaster. Did you know they have a Christmas catalog, too? You can give the gift of domestic animals, emergency relief supplies, clean water, and much more. We ordered chicks one year for each of our nieces. I think their mothers were pleased that we did not actually give the chicks to our nieces.

2. Drink coffee. Do good. If you–or someone you love is a coffee junkie–you know that Rwandan coffee is exceptional. Instead of purchasing beans from your not-so-friendly warehouse store, consider purchasing Land of a Thousand Hills coffee. Shipping is free today! I promise you that this is delicious coffee. There are plenty of bean options available, including Haitian varieties, as well as gift merchandise.

Christmas in a Cup Flavored Coffee Gift Set

3. Don’t forget the Philippines. Donations to disaster relief typically ebb when the disaster is no longer front-page news. Damage from Typhoon Haiyan is going to take many years to repair. Click on the button on the right side of my blog to donate through Compassion International. Compassion International has been working through churches in the Philippines since 1977 and has a vested interest in restoring island communities.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget that the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not about the gifts we give each other. It’s about the greatest gift we’ve be given: a helpless baby who came to earth to be our Savior.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m still in the bathroom. Round 2 seems to be over, and my relief should be home in the next few hours.

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Even Better Than Baskin-Robbins

I remember going out for ice cream as a little girl. That’s when a trip to Baskin-Robbins was something special–before it got lumped together with Dunkin Donuts. When I was younger I gravitated towards strawberry or peach. Once I (almost) outsmarted my parents’ long-standing rule of NO GUM by ordering bubble gum ice cream and methodically picking out every piece of bubble gum in the scoop on my cone. (In fairness to my parents, I was also responsible for the NO GUM rule, but that’s another story.)

Then I discovered coffee ice cream in middle school. My regular babysitting job was for neighbors who had recently adopted a baby. Their pantry reflected their refined tastes, and they stocked the freezer with just two ice cream flavors: coffee and rum raisin. I chose coffee. And when we visited Baskin-Robbins, I discovered something even better than coffee ice cream. The flavor was called Jamoca Almond Fudge. Need I say more?

I don’t eat ice cream very often these days, but I still love coffee, almonds, and chocolate. The recipe below is my homage to my favorite Baskin-Robbins flavor but is much better suited to a post-workout meal. (Note: My recipe does not include high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, or Jamoca®.) There are no directions because I’m assuming that if you’re reading this post, you also know how to operate a blender. Add ice as desired.


Jamocha Almond Smoothie

4 oz. brewed coffee
4 oz. milk (I use 1%)
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I like Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions)
1 Tbsp. almond butter

Nutrition Info
Calories: 270
Fat: 11.25 g
Carbs: 22.5 g
Fiber: 6.5 g
Net Carbs: 16 g.
Protein: 22 g.