Monthly Archives: May 2022

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

Ah, summer. The most elusive season in Chicagoland. 

To quote the great Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The same goes for summer. It’s here and then it’s not, so it’s important to make the most of it. 

One way is by having a picnic or 20. There’s something wonderful about relaxing and eating in the great outdoors. Of course, no great picnic comes without some planning, and in today’s blog post, we offer up some tips. 

Choose a Picnic Spot

Location, location, location. 

There are many options for a picnic spot, depending on the activities, size of your basket, and privacy. You can never go wrong with picnicking at the end of the park, where there are no dogs and wildly flying frisbees. Your picnic spot should have a scenic backdrop for selfies and pictures to post on social media to make your friends jealous…I mean…to store for a lifetime of memories. 

If you don’t feel like schlepping, you can always set up shop in your backyard. Also, don’t rule out adult picnics with meat and cheese boards, and wine. Ravinia, anyone? 

Planning The Food

At the center of any great picnic is the food (the same could be said about any occasion, really).

With so many different options, it’s more about deciding which types of food are going to enhance your experience the most and make the day more enjoyable. If being efficient and having easy cleanup is a top priority for you, then you may decide on snacks and finger foods that aren’t going to be messy. If it’s all about the flavor and texture, then you may want to drop any restrictions or limitations and go with whatever suits your cravings. 

Whatever you end up choosing, make sure it is relatively easy to eat in a picnic setting, it can be transported without spoiling, and it’s something everyone is going to enjoy. 

And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t bring pizza, because by the time you set up, it will be lukewarm and dull, and that is a culinary crime. 

Choose a Good Basket (or More)

You may opt for a classic, sturdy picnic basket or a cost-effective duffel bag. Both carriers are viable options for your picnic. Remember to carry a cooler for your chilled drinks.

Make a checklist that includes paper plates, disposable utensils, a waterproof picnic blanket or vintage quilt, and napkins. If you bring wine or beer–which of course you should–you’ll need an opener and some glasses. 

One more thing: Thou shalt not forget bug spray and sunscreen. 

Bring Games 

It’s always nice to work off some of that food with a little physical activity. Bring a game of bags, a football, paddle ball, baseball and gloves, frisbee, or hacky sack (if you must). 

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know it’s related to baskets that enhance the picnic experience that are great gifts for the important people in your lives. Oh yes, it’s coming to me. Sound the 🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 because we have the perfect gift baskets for your picnic, like our Picnic At Home Gift Basket!

And oh yeah, check the weather first unless you enjoy picnicking in the rain or hail. 

Health Benefits of Volunteering

Yep, you read the title of this blog post correctly. 

You may be asking your screen, “Aren’t these supposed to be about food and drink?” 

Good question, and the answer is no. 

You may also be asking, “What does volunteering have to do with gift baskets?”

Another good question, and the answer is nothing. 

You see, we’re thinking outside of the vittle/potable box while still sticking with the health benefits theme. I’ve also wanted to write about this topic because I’ve certainly experienced the benefits of volunteering, working with organizations such as the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce, The Peyton Heart Project, Shir Hadash Synagogue, Boy Scouts of America, and Camp Fire. 

Today, we veer toward volunteerism. 

Volunteering Can Help Reduce Depression

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and finally a light is being shined brighter on this issue than ever before. In that vein, it turns out that the act of volunteering can be good for your mental health. 

A study shows that social connection for a good cause reduces feelings of depression, especially among patients suffering from chronic pain. Lending a helping hand gives you a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and may improve your self-confidence. 

A Mood Boost

We’ll keep things in the mental health realm. 

Part and parcel with reducing depression, volunteering can make you happier. According to the Journal of Happiness Studies (I’m not making this up), scientists discovered that people who volunteer compared to those who don’t, were generally more satisfied with their lives and reported better mental health. 

Feelings of happiness are linked to endorphins, also known as the brain’s natural pain reliever

Improved Physical Health

Check it out: you could volunteer without missing out on a gym hour and vice versa. Volunteering can serve as a good workout. 

Activities vary in physical exertion, but movement can improve your heart rate, which helps battle cardiovascular diseases. A 30-year study by Cornell University shows that senior citizens who volunteered had far fewer illnesses than their counterparts who didn’t.

Many volunteering activities are outdoors, meaning you get your daily dose of Vitamin D. Also, you exercise your body, which is important for overall health. 

Nurtures New and Fosters Existing Relationships

People are often recruited to volunteer by friends, co-workers, colleagues, and other folks they know. Spending quality time together and conducting acts of service strengthens bonds. At the same time, volunteerism offers an opportunity to build new relationships. 

The Mayo Clinic agrees: 

“Volunteering increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a shared activity. Dedicating time as a volunteer helps expand social networks and practice social skills with others.”

Fired up yet! You should be. If you need direction on volunteer opportunities, here is a comprehensive list covering Chicagoland. 

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The Health Benefits of Baths

Full disclosure: I love me a good bath. It’s sort of vital to my existence. 

Baths are a great way to relax and unwind after a long day or as a soothing reward after a big accomplishment, or even just because. 

Are baths actually good for you? 

You bet your sweet bubbles they are! In today’s blog post, we discuss the health benefits of baths and why you should indulge in a warm tub today…or right now. 

Baths Help Our Minds

Research shows that having a bath can have a lasting effect on your mood. The comfort that comes with a warm bath can be very powerful, giving us womb-like security. That security has a strong positive psychological impact that has real staying power.

Baths also help us sleep better, and sleep is not overrated. Healthy sleep can produce good outcomes like the ability to better assess difficult situations and apply critical thinking. A soothing bath before bedtime can help your body and mind relax so you can drift off peacefully and enjoy some Zzzzz’s.

Baths are also known to improve mental health by reducing inflammation, which calms the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety. 

Baths Do The Body Good

There are plenty of reasons your body will thank you for a bath. Not only does a bath feel great, but a warm soak encourages physiological health, as well. 

Taking a bath can improve blood circulation and increase blood oxygenation by allowing slower, deeper breathing. This may reduce inflammation and can ease stiff muscles and joints, which cause chronic pain. Additionally, baths allow our skin to hydrate, which is enhanced by oils and bath bombs. We are, after all, composed mostly of water. 

Additional Benefits 

Bathing can also help relieve cold and flu symptoms, burn calories, and even help keep your heart healthy, not to mention boosting your immune system to better help fight off viruses and infection. 

One More Thing…

A plain bath can be good enough, but just like pizza, why not add to it? There are wonderful accoutrements to elevate your bathing experience, like 🛀 SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT 🛀our Mom’s Escape Gift Basket, built in a paperboard travel trunk that begins with a bottle of Chardonnay and is filled with a bath pillow, eye mask, Himalayan bath salad, a cucumber candle, and much more. Did I mention that it’s the perfect Mother’s Day and that Mother’s Day is THIS SUNDAY? 

Whether it’s to soothe irritated skin, feel more awake, or just to feel pampered, taking a bath is always a good idea. Now go have a soak. You’ve earned it!

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