When I was in college, I had a job working banquets and other events at a fancy country club. I’m a terrible waitress, but it was a really good learning experience and gave me a good behind-the-scenes peek at food service and event planning. I also have a surprising amount of crazy stories from the time I worked there. I think my absolute favorite is The Gingerbread Event.

It was a very organized operation. Each family got a naked gingerbread house, many bowls of icing, and a shit ton of candy to decorate with. When I showed up for work that day, I was expecting to be running bowls of sugar or refilling hot chocolate mugs, but, no. When I got there, they handed me a costume, which included a felt green hat and shoes that curled up at the toes.

Oh no.

Oh yes. “…and Jess, you’re going to be one of Santa’s helpers!”

I am terrible at standing still looking excited about Christmas, so the day dragged as I desperately wished for something to do with my hands.  Near the end of my shift, a little girl ran up to me, clapping her hands with excitement.

“Mommy, look—it’s a real elf!”

The mother grabbed her hand and pulled her away from me. “No, sweetie. That’s a big girl dressed like an elf.”

And Christmas was ruined forever.


I haven’t been looking forward to the holidays that much this year. My dad loved Christmas, and without him around I kind of want to just run away to the beach and get away from all things holiday lights and Christmas music. I am probably going to do all of my shopping online because I just, like, can’t right now. I’m super-sensitive to music as it is, but the dials have been turned way up on that the last few months. There are so many Christmas songs that bring back memories, and I don’t really love the idea of having a good ‘ol ugly cry in the middle of a store. My tastebuds are also taking some time adjusting to the holly-jolly side of the flavor spectrum, but that’s not really anything new.

I like the idea of seasonal drinks like hot chocolate and pumpkin-spiced drinks but in reality, they’re usually so sweet it’s like a cavity in a cup—not to mention a total blood sugar nightmare. Adding alcohol to a mug of steaming hot sugar only amps up the effect. If you’ve ever been cranky and tipsy while trying to deck the halls or spend time with small-dose relatives, then you know how this can make for an unpleasant holiday experience.

Did you read my article over on SHAPE about my love affair with collagen hot cocoa? If you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat! Seeing as we’re deep into PSL season, I’ve had healthier frothy coffee drink recipes on the brain, but I realize that not everyone drinks coffee. Having lots of half-used jars of pumpkin has given me a reason to experiment, so after some major fails, I came up with something absolutely delicious. This recipe is a recent win that provides some protein and boasts those collagen benefits to your hair, skin, and nail health.It’s all the pumpkin spice flavor without the coffee. The pumpkin whipped cream is totally optional, but it’s a nice treat that tastes way fancier than it is.


You’ll end up with extra whipped cream from this recipe, and there are lots of delicious ways to use it. Might I suggest on top of black coffee, with shortcut baked apple, or even on top of pumpkin oatmeal?

Pumpkin Spice Collagen Latte With Pumpkin Whipped Cream 

Serves 4


For Whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin purée

For Drinks:


  1. To make whipped cream, using a whisk or electric mixers, beat heavy cream in a cold metal bowl until whipped. Add pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup. Fold in pumpkin until well mixed. Set aside.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in collagen powder, spices, sweetener, and pumpkin until well mixed. Take off heat.
  3. Divide drink between 4 mugs. Top each mug with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
  4. While the whipped cream is best enjoyed right after making it, it will keep for a few days in the fridge when covered.


Feel free to make this into a coffee drink by subbing brewed coffee for the water or simply adding a few shots of espresso to the sauce pan. Just a note: if you fill your mug too high before adding the whipped cream, drippage will occur. I learned this one the hard way.


What’s your favorite seasonal drink? 







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