When the cold calls
You can’t cure the flu with “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Done just right, the seasonal sickness will knock you off your feet for days. We asked a few local ladies (including one doc) for time-worn advice on beating a cold in record time.—Caite White
Jenée Libby, author of thedinerofcville.com
“My surefire cure is Marco & Luca’s hot and sour soup. You get a huge tub of it for $1.75 and it’s seriously the hottest, sourest soup I’ve ever had in my life. When you’re feeling throaty or chesty, this stuff cuts through it like a knife. I swear by it, and have even sent the hubby down to the Mall [to get it], especially when I’m feeling puny.”
Gloria Rockhold, Latino liason for Albemarle County Schools
“I was talking to a Cuban friend the other day and she reminded me that for every ailment they use ‘vi vapo ruh,’ or Vicks Vapor Rub. This was funny to me because it is true. They would rub it everywhere.”
Paige Mattson, owner of Blue Ridge Eco Shop
“My mother always swore by a spoonful of local honey and lemon juice for a sore throat. I still do the spoonful to this day. I’m not sure if it really works or just the comfort of feeling like mom’s here when I’m sick! My husband and I really try to avoid using OTC cold and flu remedies. We find that upping our Vitamin C when we start to feel down usually will ward off most things.”
And here’s what Dr. Laura Ricciardi of Charlottesville Family Practice says:
—Combine a regimen of saline, rest, no smoking, steam and wasabi to clear sinuses.
—No dairy! It causes more mucus production.
—Don’t spread the sickness. Stay home from work and, when in public, cough into your arm.
—Get the flu shot.
Keep it moving: The Lazy Girls’ Guide to Exercising
If you’re like us, you’re resolving to lose those extra holiday pounds come the new year. Also like us, you know that your job/family/laziness will likely derail your plans. We wondered, is there a way to incorporate weight loss into your already-packed schedule? We asked Martha Jefferson Hospital dietitian Rita Smith to provide some pointers for lazy girls looking to get a little exercise during the workday. As she says, “It is always better to be doing something with your body than nothing.”—C.W.
Change your space. Since standing is better for you than sitting, keep your computer at a height that prevents you from lounging in your desk chair all day. And opt for a cordless phone, so you can walk and talk.
Clock out. Set a timer on your computer to go off once an hour, reminding you to at least stretch and stand or take a walk down the hall.
Stay active. As Smith says, “Little activities or movements add up to several hundredcalories used throughout the day.” Even something as simple as tapping your feet under your desk or talking with your hands to a coworker will keep burning calories. Just keep moving!
Fuzzy wuzzy was a…
You’re not thinking about silky summer legs in the dead of winter—but you should be. Now’s the time to start laser hair removal treatments. You’ll need four to seven total, with four to six weeks between each. If you want smooth skin by springtime, get started before December.
Planning a holiday getaway? Read these tips from Peace Frogs Travel owner Julie Arbelaez before booking.—C.W.
—Top resorts in the Caribbean sell out six months in advance. Stick with a lower-budget destination (like the Mayan Riviera or Costa Rica) for better luck—and more cash for drinks!
—Travellers typically book trips from weekend to weekend. Stick with off-days to ensure you get a seat on the plane and a room in the hotel. (This year, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are on the weekend, so Monday to Monday will probably be tighter.)
—If you don’t mind the cold, trips to Canada and parts of Europe are your best bet for overall value. Airfare to Europe in particular is lowest after November 1.
How To: Write the perfect thank-you note
The best-kept secret about thank-notes, says Heather McNulty Haynie, is that they improve the quality and frequency of the gifts you receive. We asked the Rock Paper Scissors co-owner to give us the second best-kept secret of thank-you notes: how to write one!—C.W.
Our first piece of advice is to find stationery you love, as you’ll be more apt to write. And by the way, it doesn’t have to say “Thank You”—you’re going to say that in the note anyway.
Next, there are six parts to the proper thank you note:
(Top) Good Press Paper Co., $5; (Bottom) Rock Paper Scissors, $6
1. Greet the giver: “Dear Aunt Susie,”
Everyone likes to see his or her name in print. And yes, you need to hand-write these. No Word documents!
2. Express gratitude: “Thank you so much for the bathrobe.”
Be specific, name the gift. However, if the gift was cash, don’t mention a monetary amount. Instead, say something like, “Thank you for your kind gift” or “generosity.”
3. Discuss use: “I’ve worn it almost every day since you gave it to me. It’s so soft.”
Don’t love the bathrobe or having trouble saying something nice? Find something truthful you can mention, like, “It’s such a lovely shade of pink.”
4. Mention the past, allude to the future: “It was great to see you at our gift exchange on Boxing Day and I look forward to seeing you at cousin Jenny’s sweet 16.”
Why did they person give you a gift? If it’s someone you are rarely in contact with, say what you know. “Mom says your underwater basket-weaving skills are coming along nicely.” If it’s someone you’re in regular contact with, “I’ll call you soon but wanted to send along my sincere thanks.”
5. Begin a graceful exit: “Thanks again for the nice gift.”
Say it again, Sam, it’s not overdoing it!
6. Give your regards: “Love, Heather”
Use whatever signature works for you, but wrap it up.
Good reads for cold days
Need a good book to curl up with this winter? We asked Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove to suggest some chilly-weather reads.—Meagan Williams
Rita Dove (Photo by Fred Viebahn)
The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry, edited by Rita Dove. Yes, I edited this tome, but these poets represent the best of the last century…and a wealth of reading pleasure.
Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. A clear, warm observer of the vagaries of human interaction, Nye offers poems of grace, humor and wisdom.
The Alphabet of Desire by Barbara Hamby. A veritable avalanche of lush language. My favorite section features a poem for each letter of the alphabet—with each 26-line poem formed alphabetically as well. What fun!
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. Crossing continents and generations, this novel is a heartrending probe into the ties of family, love and nations.
The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia by Mary Helen Stefaniak. The year is 1938; 11-year-old Gladys reports on the happenings in her tiny redneck community in a rollicking tale that still manages to speak seriously to the damage caused by ignorance and fear.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith. This electrifying, tragicomic first novel by the author of Autograph Man and On Beauty also tackles some of the most important issues of religious and political fanaticism and ethnic strife in our times.
History of Love by Nicole Krauss. This novel defies description. It will twist you up and turn you out…and you’ll want it to.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. An amazing family saga, set in the midst of the Biafra war, that will haunt you—but in a transcendent way.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This classic meganovel by the Nobel Prize winner is a world unto itself. I reread it every five years or so, and I still find myself hanging onto every word.
How To: Survive the holiday party circuit
Armed with a great outfit, a thoughtful hostess gift and a delicious recipe to keep in your back pocket for special occasions, holiday parties will be one less stressor this winter. Here, we provide suggestions for each.
Three for one
Dolly Parton may never wear the same dress twice, but we say that’s the only way to get through countless holiday fêtes without putting a strain on your wallet. Rethink a simple shirtdress to get a look appropriate for a work party, a gift exchange with the girls and a double date without the kids.—C.W.
The dress: Diane von Furstenburg shirt dress from Levy’s ($385, 295-4270)
(Photos by Nick Strocchia)
The mostest for the hostess
Don’t show up to your boss’ holiday party empty-handed. When it comes to hostess gifts, try thinking outside the bottle (of wine). And George owners Christy Ford and Jan Roden suggest a couple of holiday gifts that are perfect for the person who has it all.—Taylor Harris
Organic Black Tea from And George ($36): From the company’s Bellocq line, a black tea blend from England.
(Photo by Andrea Hubbell)
You’ll likely need a no-hassle holiday dish, too. Even if you’re famous for your (store-bought) fruitcake, consider a new dessert this year. Go Girl Goodies owner Lori Cwalina suggests a sweet pumpkin dip that’ll have even Paula Deen crashing your party.—T.H.
Combine one 8 oz. package of cream cheese and 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until it’s well-blended and smooth. Add 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin puree and spices (1/4 tsp. each of allspice, nutmeg, ground cloves and cardamom, plus 1 tsp. ground ginger and 2 tsp. cinnamon) and beat until combined. Add 2 tbs. maple syrup to pumpkin mixture. If possible, refrigerate dip for one to two hours before serving. Serve with crisp apple slices, homemade gingersnaps or pretzel sticks.
For a festive touch, serve in a hollowed-out pumpkin. Serves 8-10.