10 ways to make it a divine December

“Oh month, diviiiiiiiiiiine” <— slightly off-key (it’s the morning), but you get the idea

August was awesome, September was stellar, October was outstanding, November was a knock-out and now we’re rounding out the year, which always has a fresh and magical feel to it. It also has a deathly cold feel to it- we had to run water last night and leave all of our cabinets open for the freeze warning.

The kitchen looked kinda creepy when we came downstairs!


December is a beautiful time to enjoy the cozy weather, the company of loved ones, and make it a divine month.


Here are some things to make December a little more fun- feel free to join in or create your own list!


(One of my favorite pictures… two little Clauses)

1.) Deck the halls.

garland (5)

Even if it isn’t a holiday month for you, find something special to spruce up your living space. It could be something bigger that you’ve been eyeing –TONS of deals right now!- or something simple, like a snowman or cheery bouquet of flowers.


2.) Plan a get-together. We have quite a few to look forward to this month- lots of squadron events, work events for me, and a cookie exchange party I’m hoping I can make it to after Thursday night’s dance show. In Valdosta, my friends and I had dinner and an ornament exchange. It was a wonderful night, and it made me feel so nostalgic to unwrap the ornament to put on our Tucson tree.


(Holiday dinner at Jeni’s house)

3.) Give to others. It’s fun to be a part of the shopping hustle and bustle for family and friends, but if you’d like, pick up an extra little something for someone in need. I always enjoy shopping for these gifts the most.

angel tree

(Thinking of a warm outfit, toy and book?)

4.) Give to yourself. I always include something like this in each month’s list, because I think it’s so important to take care of yourself and do things that make you happy. At least once this month, plan something you look forward to (a date with a friend, girls’ night, pedicure, movie night with your love, massage, etc) – it can really have a positive effect when work/family/life is crazy busy.

5.) Take it inside. If the colder weather has put a damper on your favorite fitness activity, try out a new class at a local gym, yoga studio, or begin/focus on a strength training routine. I recommend: Zumba, spin and kickboxing. You may find a new workout love <3


6.) Make a soup or chili. I added this one in here because soup is one of those things I pretty much never make, although we both enjoy it. I do love sweet potato and black bean chili but want to venture into the soup world. Any recipes I should try?


7.) Drink hot cocoa and watch a wintery flick. You can do the homemade route, or just heat up dark chocolate almond milk like I do 😉 We’ve already done this multiple times (the other night, it was “Home Alone”), but ‘tis the season- I love it.


8.) Rock a circle scarf. I love these things so much and have been on the prowl.. thinking this may be “the one”

image Nordstrom

Circle scarf, sweater, coat, skinnies, and boots. Winter uniform, done.

9.) Start inspiration-storming. If you have ideas or see something you’d like to add to your 2012 inspiration board, start snipping away and add them to an envelope. This way, when it’s time to make yours, you’ll be a step ahead of the game. [Following the tradition of the past two years, in January I’ll be posting my inspiration board along with readers’]

inspiration (3)

10.) Take extra time to spend with those you love. December can be a crazy month with work obligations, a full schedule of holiday soirees, and possible stress of getting everything done. Don’t be afraid to decline an event you’d rather not go to and prioritize time with those you care about. We have 8 events coming up, and as much as I’d like to go to all of them, there’s no way.


(Christmas at my Dadoo’s house)

And who knows, we may be surprised with a very special Christmas gift 🙂

What are your goals to make it a divine month, or something you’re looking forward to??

Here’s to a happy and healthy December!



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  1. Carrie on December 6, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Someone is going to have to explain the cabinets open during the freeze warning…

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

      i guess it keeps the pipes circulating or something like that? we got an email from base saying to open all kitchen cabinets and leave one faucet dripping water

    • Erin @ Running Tall on December 6, 2011 at 11:51 am

      I was wondering the same thing haha.

      • Anna on December 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

        me too! it reminded me of that creepy scene in the Sixth Sense. shudder

        • Kelli on December 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

          Are houses not insulated very much in Tucson? I’ve heard of doing that, but mostly for modular homes or homes that don’t have insulated pipes (old & not updated homes). I’m sure you want to err on the side of caution, but your house looks pretty new & at least in MO you don’t have to do those types of things to keep your pipes from freezing. Which is lucky since it will be mostly below freezing for the next 5 months!
          Anyway, that is funny!

          • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm

            haha good to know- i’m a rookie at these things

  2. Emmie on December 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

    butternut squash and sweet potato soup.
    super yummy and very warming/comfort foodie

  3. Laura L. on December 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

    For your “angel tree” little girl, I recently heard a little saying for giving gifts to kids that I think is perfect! Give a child: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Actually, this could be a good guideline for gift-giving in general!

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

      wow, good to know i was on the right track 🙂 that is a great saying!

      • Sarah on December 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

        My Target (Pittsburgh PA) has Barbies on sale this week buy one get one 50% off, and my best friend’s little girl is 4 and loves Barbie. You can get two dolls for under $10!
        Also, I’ve never heard of opening your cabinets when it’s freezing outside…kinda wierd cause you pipes wouldn’t run through all your cabinets.

        • Amanda Hinderliter on December 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm

          Ha, ha! I think they mean the cabinet doors in front of your sinks (where the pipes do run through) to keep the warm house air circulating around them. = )

  4. carrie on December 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

    What does leaving the cabinets open do for a freeze warning? I understand the water running……

  5. Army Amy* on December 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Three cheers for making chili!*

  6. Wendy Heath on December 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Darling, you only need to open the cabinets where your pipes are… so the warm air from the house can circulate around them and help prevent freezing. Hello, exorcist kitchen! LOL…

    Love the idea about heating up dark chocolate almond milk… that sounds fabulous! Already made soup… did a shrimp and corn chowder that was super easy and very delish.

    Started Irish Step classes again for the first time in several years- does that count as moving inside?? 🙂

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 11:51 am

      hahah good to know!
      and YES! i used to irish step dance, too 🙂 are your calves super sore? mine KILLED me when i first started

      • Wendy Heath on December 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

        My hammies are what are killing me this morning! I’m bad about stretching in general and they’ve been tight, so adding the bouncing on the toes deal… I love dancing, so glad I finally found a studio within driving distance. The worst part is my old ghillies didn’t fit anymore so I had to sub some cheapo ballet slippers… gotta get the real ones in the mail or I’m going to seriously fall on my face and die…

        • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

          haha no you won’t!
          once you break the new ghillies in, you’ll be golden. are you going to compete???

          • Wendy Heath on December 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm

            I really hope to! I would love to compete again. I moved up two levels very quickly when I was in high school competing. They had us doing figure patterns last night… I never did the group stuff, when I was in it in high school my teacher focused on solo competition stuff with me. I hope I catch on quickly!

            The one thing I don’t know if I can hack is the wig! I used to just braid my hair really tight, unbraid it right before going on the competition floor and brush/hairspray it… I get the feeling that as an adult they might frown upon that…

          • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm

            ohh you’ll catch on! figure stuff is so beautiful, too- we had a 16-hand that i used to love
            i never rocked the wig, either, but used to sleep in the horrible spike curlers. a wig might be more comfortable 🙂
            so excited for you! have fun 🙂

  7. carrie on December 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Oops I see another Carrie had the same ? above LOL

  8. Julia on December 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Haha, love the comment about the special gift…You kinda foresee it, don’t you?!

    (As always, great list! Especially #10: During the weekend, I will go see my best friend from Poland in Warsaw (where I spent a year abroad), and she has no idea I’m coming…Can’t wait!)

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

      i keep telling the family i think we’ll be in the hospital on christmas. i could be totally wrong but it’s my prediction 🙂
      your friend has no idea you’re coming?! omg, what an amazing surprise. have fun!!

      • Julia on December 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

        Haha, female intuition I guess (or rather “mother-to-be intuition”)!

        Nope, no idea at all. It’s going to be awesome, can’t wait to see her face!

  9. Erin @ Running Tall on December 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Oooh I like the idea of a vision board for 2012. I have a vision board for my overall “life” I guess, but not a year specific one. I need to bust out the scissors!

    I found dark chocolate almond milk – FINALLY! We regularly enjoy minty hot chocolate around here now. The BF calls it his special drink haha.

  10. mountain girl heidi on December 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

    The cabinet thing is interesting. I’ve lived in cold, freezing climates (Montana, Washington, Nebraska) my whole life, and I’ve never once heard that. Hmm… Hit up Pinterest or foodgawker for soup ideas. I’m like you — I never make them, but when I do, I enjoy them.

  11. Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food on December 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I like the idea of doing something for yourself. While it doesn’t have to be much, just a simple afternoon of ‘me time’ can do wonders for holiday stress and busy-ness!

    P.S. I have a total crush of circle scarves! ;-D

  12. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on December 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Happy December! I love your list, especially about inspiration boards! I’m totally making one this year!

  13. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on December 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Awesome list Gina! I just posted my goals for December yesterday (http://eat-spin-run-repeat.com/2011/12/05/5-goals-for-december/) and like you, I plan to spend time with family. I’m also loving the soup making and minty hot chocolates! 🙂

  14. Ashley on December 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I love this list. Christmas time makes everything so special. I’m drinking heated up dark chocolate almond milk with peppermint right now.

  15. Sam @ Sam Bock Illustration & Design on December 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I just started doing Zumba about a month ago, and I love it! It was a nice change of pace for my workout routine. I also need to get back into yoga more…I love it so much but after lifting 2-3 times a week and kickboxing/running and Zumba, I haven’t been taking yoga multiple times a week like I was before. I want to try the Hot Yoga class my studio is offering now that the weather is chillier.

    If you love black bean chili, you should make a variation of the black bean soup I’ve started making a lot: http://sambockillustration.blogspot.com/2011/10/lululemon-and-black-bean-soup.html
    You would have to alter the optional greek yogurt and shredded cheese, and the chicken stock/broth, but just water would work fine. It is really easy, and as you seem to have a similar love (read: obsession) for Southwestern foods, I think you’d like it!

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      i’m sure i’d love it- it sounds like panera’s black bean soup, which is one of my faves

  16. Clementine on December 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    My favorite recipe for cold weather is posole! It’s really easy, and you can throw in as many vegetables as you want – I love having the basic soup on hand in the fridge, and heating it up and throwing on various toppings (chopped onion, cabbage, CILANTRO!, avocado…) and then of course a warm tortilla to mop up the broth.

    We use this recipe: http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1926,157164-240203,00.html
    But we normally make turkey broth out of leftover Thanksgiving turkey for the base, and use turkey meat instead of pork. (I’m sure the modified vegetarian version is equally delicious!)

    • Clementine on December 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      *pozole (how embarrassing!)

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      YUM!!! my mom makes amazing posole….. maybe i need to try to make some myself

  17. Katy @ A Shot of Life on December 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    So glad you included an Angel tree gift! Those are always my favorite gifts to purchase also, and I’m sure they’re the most appreciated. 🙂

    I don’t think I understand the cabinets/freeze deal?

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

      wendy explained it well, above. it’s to keep the air circulating around the pipes

  18. Michele on December 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Jenna @ Eat, Live, Run has a ridiculously good Chinese chicken noodle/pho-type deal. I made it with tofu instead of chicken, but it was incredibly cozy and delicious!!

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      good to know- i love her recipes 🙂

  19. Jessica@Fruit and Veggie Tales on December 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Definitely, definitely make this soup http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/butternut_squash_apple_soup/ Butternut Squash Apple soup!!!! It was divine 😉 It would be delish with gluten free grilled goat cheese sammies or slices of toasted and goat cheese topped g-free bread! http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2011/04/gluten-free-bread-xanthan-free-vegan.html Hope you try the soup, it’s amazing!

  20. Katie on December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    What a great post! 🙂

    My family and I are only giving one gift per person this year in hopes to spend the rest of our free time together and enjoying this month (instead of being overwhelmed like we always used to be). With my dad starting radiation, we want to ensure any strength he has is not spent on shopping, but on quality time with us. 🙂

  21. Barb on December 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    If you haven’t already..you HAVE to check out Pinterest…..you could do the inspiration board ONLINE! 🙂

  22. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy on December 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I always love these lists. Good reminders. I love Iowa Girl Eats’ white chili with chicken and green chilis AND you can’t skip the “grandmothers” cornbread recipe she links in the post. http://iowagirleats.com/2010/10/25/embrace-your-imperfections/

  23. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on December 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Yay I love these lists!!! That picture of your two santa dogs is precious!! I think Bell is mrs. clause! And I think giving to others is the reason for the season!! It makes me so happy! But it’s good to remember that we need to take time for ourselves as well, despite how busy we are! It’s hard to turn down parties and events but sometimes it’s necessary! I have a feeling you might be getting a very special Christmas gift too! Can’t wait to hear!!!

  24. Food for Todd on December 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve never made an inspiration board before! I think I’ll give it a try for 2012 – looks fun and thought provoking!

  25. Sarah S. on December 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family, including my two little guys. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a little one makes it special all over again. We’re going to the Zoo see their lights and also breakfast with Santa. I’m also looking forward a little bit to the end of the year, it’s been a crazy year for us and I can’t wait for it to slow down again.

    We do the cabinets open too (live in Chicago), the winter months are a pain!

  26. joelle (on a pink typewriter) on December 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I love your inspiration boards.. I feel like I should make one instead of the many random notes I have jotted down around my apartment of my goals and hopes for the future. I also want to get motivated to try some new fitness classes!

  27. Cat @Breakfast to Bed on December 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    have you had the sodelicious chocolate peppermint coconut milk? I am pretty sure it’s Rudolph’s favorite.

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      No, but now I have to find some! 🙂

  28. Christin@purplebirdblog on December 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I’m pretty proud of this soup right here http://www.purplebirdblog.com/2011/11/29/baked-green-tomatoes-and-cilantro-veggie-soup/ and I’ll be posting another recipe for a vegan broccoli cheeze soup later today that is equally as fantastic! 🙂

  29. Michelle on December 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    We just got to pick our Holiday Angels kids at work and I was so excited to pick a 13 year old girl who wanted “Modern hip hop style tops” because I work with a ton of matronly older women and thought I could get her something amazing and then I got back to my cube and a friend pointed out that someone dressed in head to toe J Crew may not be the best person to shop for hip hop clothing. 🙂

  30. Amanda on December 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Soup recommendation – I LOVE Angela at OhSheGlows’ “Holiday Soup for the Soul” recipe – protein from black beans and quinoa, and tons of veggies!

  31. Heather on December 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    so glad I’m not the only one who had no idea about the cabinet thing. Living on the coast in MS we very rarely get freeze warnings. My friends made fun of me a few years ago because I didn’t know what an ice scraper was!

  32. Alicia @ This Organic Body on December 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Yeah I too have never heard of the open cabinets. I live in Utah and it’s been below freezing at night for weeks and have never covered pipes or opened cabinets. I have a friend who’s piping is strange and has to keep some water running. I just keep my house at 70 and that keeps everything functioning.

  33. Jessica on December 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Can I recommend some crayons and a coloring book instead of a book? My kids love books, but feel really special when they get their own box of crayons with a coloring book.
    I vote Mama Pea’s Spicy African Peanut Stew.
    Just think, this time next year, you will have your little girl to celebrate the season with!

  34. ashley on December 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    My favortite soup recipe ever is actually from the first hungry girl book-hot and sour soup. It is delicious and all ingredients are healthy! (Some of the recipes from the books contain “diet food” with gross ingredients. This one is awesome because all ingredients are real. I’m pretty sure its just broth, spices, tofu, and some veggies). I love adding any extra veggies into mine that we have laying around our house.

  35. Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs on December 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I always love these posts you do for each month 🙂

    An idea for the 4-year-old, I have two nieces that age and they are OBSESSED with the Pinkalicious book series. They are so cute!

  36. Laura on December 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I’ll definitely be doing an inspiration board, though we’ve always call it “Road-Mapping.” Also planning a get-together because I have friends that still haven’t seen our new house!

  37. elizabeth on December 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Gina, I think you will appreciate this recipe since you love salsa. You should defenitely try this recipe, it is delicious and is a winter staple in our house. Plus I’m sure you can find a way to make it GF!http://savorysweetlife.com/2010/08/salsa-verde-chicken-with-herbed-cornmeal-dumplings/

  38. Chloe (In Fine Feather) on December 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    After my final exams are done on Wednesday I plan on doing many of those things! I’m going to two holiday parties this weekend, plan on some hot yoga, and will be back to making comforting & health dinners since I will finally have time to shop & plan!

  39. Mo on December 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I decorated the house the day after Thanksgiving – and brought out all of my balsam/fir candles. Between the lights, the shiny things and the smells – it makes having to stay indoors due to the cold that much more enjoyable. And crazily, I’m kinda looking forward to shoveling. It’s really beautiful to be outside when the big flakes are slowly falling all around you. And I bought myself (yes, I took one of your rules to heart) the new TaeBo – PT 24/7 . . . so I’ll be punching and kicking off the added treats this season!


  40. Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon on December 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Hehe I love #8!
    I don’t think I’ve taken off my circle scarf since Thanksgiving!

  41. Shelly on December 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I made a pretty good new soup last night! It calls for Pork sausage, but my friend (my friends who live out of town and I occasionally all cook the same thing and compare notes) made hers with chicken chorizo and the other made it with vegan chorizo…

    It’s basically sausage, onion, garlic, sweet potato, and regular potato simmered in broth, with tons of spinach stirred in at the end (the spinach was my favorite part!)

    After making it, I think it would be good veggie-ized even without fake sausage- I think you could spice it with lots of paprika, cayenne and cumin to replace the spices from the chorizo, and add white beans and mushrooms for meatiness (and maybe a squeeze of lemon at the end for some brightness.

  42. Jessica A. on December 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

    makes 4 first course servings:

    3 cups chicken/ vegetable stock, low sodium
    1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and pureed
    15 oz pumpkin puree
    3 tbsp brown sugar (I use a brown sugar substitute), packed
    1 teaspoon cumin, ground
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used chipotle, because that was what i had and a little extra because the Mr likes some heat)
    1/2 teaspoon coriander, ground
    1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
    1.5 cups roasted sweet corn (I buy the organic freezer corn and roast it with NO butter or oil for about 7 min)
    3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used about 1.5 cups of the 2% low fat sharp cheddar, but you could use whatever you have or like)
    chopped fresh cilantro and low fat sour cream to taste as a garnish

    Put the beans in the blender with the chicken stock until they are a creamy and smooth consistency. Add them to the pot.

    Bring everything to a boil, add the spices, then fold in the cheese and corn last. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until it reaches the right consistency)

    I got this recipe from a friend, and we eat it weekly now! The original recipe was made with heavy cream (I substitute pureed beans) and a few other not-so-healthy ingredients, but we modified the best we could! It is soo delicous! I hope you get a chance to give it a try!
    Good luck!

    • Jacquelyn on December 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      This looks really yummy!!

      • Jessica A. on December 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

        It really is awesome! Super great and exciting find!

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      GLORIOUS! thank you!

  43. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on December 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    What are your goals to make it a divine month, or something you’re looking forward to?? = currently on vacay with the family for awhile and this is my happy place. I love it here. This is where I’m at greatest peace and where my creative energy flows and where I recharge.

    I love your whole list. And those slippers…look so cozy and comfy!

    • Jacquelyn on December 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      I’m super jealous of your vacay, btw.

  44. Lara @ beingLA on December 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I’m so fragile when it comes to cold weather. It’s in the low 60’s in LA and I’m freezing because the wind is making everything feel colder! I’m planning a jewelry-making party and a Christmas cookie party this month! Can’t wait. Love this time of the year and decking the halls :).

  45. Jacquelyn on December 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I made a yummmmmy veggie soup that I absolutely love. Check it out! http://justjacq.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/veggie-soup-day/
    It includes a little Mama love fest which you might appreciate! One day your mini-me will write one about you, too!!

  46. Sonia (the Mexigarian) on December 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    the vision board is a great idea. i never actually finished one before. lol. i should do it for 2012. i need to find a way to balance art, writing, and my workouts: running, cycling, swimming, yoga, zumba. I need to add strength training to my list because Jillian Michaels nearly killed me yesterday.

    that and strictly budget myself. eeeep. and pay off debt.

  47. Jen on December 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I have to share this Express scarf because it’s really cute and sparkly, but not itchy!
    Have you tried coconut milk hot chocolate? I make the cocoa with water, chocolate and spices and add a splash of canned coconut milk at the end (full fat is best), it’s creamy and really delicious with a hint of coconut.

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      oh i love those! buy one, get one 50% off too- awesome
      no i haven’t, but that sounds fantastic

  48. beccah on December 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    thai soup!!!!

  49. Georgia on December 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Maybe base was playing a joke with the cabinet thing! Just kidding. But I have never heard of that…

    • Fitnessista on December 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      maybe? i don’t know about these things! haha

  50. Miriam on December 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Gina : I bought a circle scarf at Zara, was the best quality/price I could find. You must check them out, nice confy and warm.

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