Monday, December 26, 2011

After Christmas To-Do List

After the joy and chaos of Christmas has come and gone I'm usually left with a touch of depression. I wait all year long to enjoy the Christmas season and it's gone before I can drink my hot chocolate! All that's left to do is more on to my After Christmas To-Do List! Which goes as follows:

#1 Take Down the Christmas DecorationsThis always makes me a little sad, but somehow I manage to do it every year.

#2 Rearrange the FurnitureI don't need much of an excuse to rearrange the furniture, and clearing out the Christmas tree is as good as any!

#3 New Years ResolutionsSo here is what I've come up with so far.

3.1 - Lose weight & firm upThis last week I felt chunky and uncomfortable in my own skin every day. I also got some major inspiration that getting skinny was possible for me from my awesome brother! I feel determined to find a way to feel good about myself again.

3.2 - Make/Follow a weekly schedule for me & the kidsOh my poor kids get so board every day. Yes, they now have all kinds of new toys thanks to their Christmas haul, but that's just not enough. So I am planning to plan! We are going to have at least a semi-structured schedule to follow this year to help us all get through the day.

3.3 - Start writing regularly againI used to love to write, it was so satisfying to see my ideas and feelings take form on paper. So I'm making a formal declaration to the whole handful of people who actually take the time to read this post. I will be trying my hand at writing once more.

So now that you've seen mine, why don't you tell me yours?!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Traditions

This year I've been thinking a lot about Christmas Traditions. We have a few, but I'd like to come up with a few more. I've been asking around and here are some awesome ideas!

This year I was caroled by a group of college guys in santa hats playing frosty the snowman on trombones! Seriously awesome. My family has never really done the caroling thing seeing as how we're not exactly musically talented, but I do love to be on the receiving end of it!

Checking out and voting on the best Christmas decorations in town.
My grandpa would always load up his car with all of the grandkids and we'd drive around town looking at all of the lights. We were instructed to say 'ooooohh' when we thought the house was pretty and 'awwwweee' when we thought it was amazing. It's one of my favorite memories, and now I'm noticing that my kids are in awe of the lights around town whenever we're out after dark!

Christmas PJ's
This isn't something my family did when I was young, but I started this with my growing family and I've really loved it! Although the jammies we get aren't always Christmas themed.

Going to a movie on Christmas day
My brother and dad would always go to a movie on Christmas day with my uncle and cousin. It's something they still mention to this day, so I know they loved it!

Acting out the birth of Christ
I've been cast in this play a few times, and I'll tell you it was very well received by my aunts and uncles! It's a good way to keep the true meaning o Christmas in focus.

Watching your favorite holiday movie.
Growing up my grandma always made sure we watched A Christmas Story. Ralphie and his BB Gun always make it feel like Christmas to me. I've added a second favorite holiday movie to my Christmas to-do list.
I really don't think there's anything sweeter than Garfied and Odie making nice on Christmas morning! Watching your favorite holiday movie.

Giving a gift to Christ
A tradition I'd like to start is to have everyone give a gift back to Christ on Christmas. There are lots of ways to do this, but I think an easy way is to have an envelope for everyone hanging on the tree. Then we they decide what to give they can write it down (or have mom and dad write it) and put it inside the envelope. Then on Christmas morning take some time to talk about the true meaning of Christmas and read everyone's gift. Typically your 'gift' is something like a new years resolution, but maybe with a little more service or charity in it.

Christmas/Christmas Eve Dinner
Some people make a dinner to rival Thanksgiving and some people order out. Tad's family used to go to a restaurant every year on Christmas Eve. My family would always make a nice dinner. No matter how you choose to do it I'm sure everyone will be feeling the love!

Christmas Eve Board Game
One tradition I remember is playing RISK on Christmas Eve. It takes forever of course, and we almost never finished a game, but I loved it. It's reminds me particularly of my dad.

Of course, everyone has to put their stockings somewhere! While in my family we hang them from a broom that's propped up by chairs on either end (which is totally awesome), I've heard of some great ideas as well. Tad's family just lay them on the couch, some people put them under the tree, and some people put them in their kids rooms. Now I've got to admit the brilliance of putting the stocking in your child's room. It gives them something to do while mommy and daddy and Santa get some extra Zzz's in! Which is a great Christmas present in itself! Although I think I'd miss seeing thier faces when they dig into their stockings and finding what Santa left.

Well that's what I've come up with, if you've got some different ideas I'd love to hear them!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa Baby...

Oh Santa, please bring me: Cute New Flats

Veronica Mars

New Coat
It's getting cold! Please, please, please!

Cinnamon Rolls

And finally, Snow!
So I know this is pretty unlikely since I live in Vegas like weather, but a girl can dream.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One Sweet Slice on The News!

Cake Pops

My amazing cousin Janell from One Sweet Slice has done, yet another, amazing thing! She did a segment on KUTV this morning showing Utah how to make Cake Pops, a very delicious and adorable treat! Check out her segment and you can learn how to make a special holiday snack! If you want to learn more about Janell here's the link to the interview I did with her, and the link to her website and facebook page.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Memories, Take 2

My memories from Christmas as a kid are all filled with fun and excitement and the strange magic that fills the holiday. I have found that looking at Christmas with 'Mom-Colored Glasses' opens me to a completely different, but just as magical kind of joy. Except this time I'm the one with most of the magic powers! Here are a few things I've seen differently:

Getting Presents vs Giving Presents
It was SO exciting to make my Christmas list when I was a kid. I loved running through the list of 'must have' toys that were popular that year. That's how I ended up with a Skip-It and a Giga-Pet :) But now that I'm the mom in the family it seems so much more exciting to watch my kids open the presents that I've carefully picked out for them. I even keep most of their gifts a secret from Tad so I can watch his face too.

Early Riser vs Late Sleeper
There was one thing that really pissed me off when I was little. My cousin and I would wake up at 5 am on Christmas morning to check out our loot. When we went to wake up our older brothers and sisters to taunt them that we had been the first to see what Santa had left, they would casually inform us that they'd looked through everything at 3 and could we please go away. So unfair. However, now that I'm the one who fills every stalking (including my own) I am lacking in that desire to get up before the crack of dawn. Sadly my 1 and 3 year old don't quite grasp the concept of sleeping in.

Stalking vs Stalker
I pretty much had a one tract mind on Christmas morning, and it went something like this, "presents, presents, presents, candy, presents" I didn't give much thought to anything beyond that. I love looking back at old Christmas pictures and seeing our ridiculous PJ's and crazy bed head. It only now dawns on me that the reason we have such great pictures of our priceless memories is that my mom spent most of her Christmas recording the day.

Playing vs Visiting
Oh how I HATED waiting on my mom to finish talking with people so I could get on with whatever was so important to me that day. It seemed like she could talk for endless amounts of time about things that could not have been vital to my life. How rude, right? Yet, once again, I have realized how very nice it is to just sit still for an hour and talk to my sister or brother about what's going on in our lives. It's a good think I'm a lot less boring than my mom was ;)

So I ask you, what kinds of Christmas memories are you starting to remember differently?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recipe Box: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup is in my top 3 favorite soups. I love it, but I have never made it myself until this week. To be honest, I was intimidated by homemade soups. They seemed so complex and time consuming, but I can tell you now that IT CAN BE DONE! My husband said it was the best he'd ever had, and even my 3 year old likes it! I found this awesome recipe from Chef in Training and it is delicious. Here's her instructions:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (16 oz) package frozen chopped broccoli (you can add more if you like)
  • Salt and Pepper TT
  • 8 oz. Velveeta Cheese
  • 1 (8 oz) bag sharp cheddar cheese

Mix water and heavy cream together and set aside.
Melt butter and flour together to form a roux. Slowly add in heavy cream/water mixture stirring constantly. Add in chicken broth still stirring. Let simmer for 20-25 minutes to let the soup thicken up.
Add in broccoli and cook over low heat for an additional 20-25 minutes to continue to thicken soup as well as cook and soften the broccoli.
Sample and add salt and pepper to taste.
Cut 8 oz. Velveeta into cubes and drop into soup and stir until melted. Add in sharp cheddar and stir until blended.


So if you suffer from homemade soup anxiety like I once did this recipe could be just the confidence boost you need to get you started.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Awesome Shabby Apple Giveaway on Favorite Things!

Jessica at A Few of My Favorite Things is having a giveaway from Shabby Apple where you can win this skirt:
Click HERE to check it out

Andes Skirt
Stop by and enter, you know know when you'll get lucky!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Special Christmas Special

If there's one thing I love at Christmas, it's A Garfield's Christmas. Nothing brings the holiday season in like my favorite lazy cat! And you're favorite Christmas special is....?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

10 Ways to Save Money at Christmas

If there's one thing I need help with this time of year it's keeping to my budget! Tad & I keep an envelope that we slip money into throughout the year whenever we have a spare $20 and use that for birthdays and holidays. It works well for most holidays, but at Christmas it's so easy to go overboard. I found this article on The Adventerous Writer by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen. It's full of great tips!

These ways to save money at Christmas will reduce holiday stress. Use these holiday gift shopping tips to make your loved ones happy without spending a lot of money. Don’t let expensive Christmas presents set you back thousands of dollars – that’s bad for your budget goals and your health.

Before the money saving tips, a quip:

“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort,” said Helen Gurley Brown.

These ways to save money at Christmas will help you be comfortable all year round. One of these holiday shopping tips involves making holiday gifts for your loved ones (instead of buying expensive presents). For more info, check out the Holiday Gift Workshop Kit.

And, here are ten ways to save money at Christmas….

10 Ways to Save Money at Christmas – Holiday Gift Shopping Tips

1. Visualize your perfect Christmas holiday. For some people, Christmas isn’t Christmas without piles of gifts. But for most people, the holidays really are about family, friends, fun and peace. Vistualize how you can bring those values into your holiday celebrations. Then, stand by your goals. Inform “gift-grubbing” friends or family that you want to make the holidays more meaningful this year, and explain you’re finding ways to share experiences, rather than giving expensive gifts. Limit gifts to one per person. By setting expectations early, you can avoid holiday disappointment.

2. Plan and budget for Christmas spending first. Much holiday stress is caused by finances and lack of planning. Before the mall’s holiday tunes jingle your willpower away, think practically about holiday spending. And to save money at Christmas, plan for holiday season spending early. Remember to include:

  • Everyone you’ll give a gift to and how much you plan to spend.
  • Cards and postage.
  • Decorations.
  • Entertaining, including food, drink, special garments, child care, etc.
  • Year-end tips for newspaper carriers, babysitters, housecleaners, doormen, hairdressers and other service providers.
  • Gifts for coworkers, teachers, doctors, neighbors or others close to your family.
  • Travel costs.

To save money, just buy what you need. Don’t go Christmas shopping until you look at your bills, your checkbook, and your savings balance — and, if you have a spouse, until you talk about money as a couple. How to Spend Less at Christmas – Money Tips for Couples will help with those discussions!

2. Take inventory before holiday gift shopping. A painless tip is to scour your closets, under your bed or anywhere you might have stashed your clever, early purchases. Think back: Did you stock up on Grandpa’s argyle socks at last year’s post-holiday sales? Check before buying more pairs.

3. Start Christmas shopping online — early. Avoid the stress of malls altogether, skip the temptation of store displays, and steer clear of the hassle of fighting over holiday gifts. Research the best Christmas gifts early (read Romantic Holiday Gift Ideas), and look for free shipping deals.

4. Time your holiday gift shopping right. If you really need to go to a mall, avoid the busiest times to avoid stress. If possible, go early in the day when stores open or late on a weeknight. Take advantage of many stores’ extended hours during the holiday season. Monday night at 9 p.m. can be very quiet, even in mid-December.

5. Delegate the holiday gift shopping tasks. An effective way to save money at Christmas is to decide who in your family or group of friends will shop for each recipient. This can help ensure you get to priority sales and stores, and that nobody doubles up.

6. Build a snowman instead of spending money on holiday activities. Have a kids’ afternoon that will wear little bodies out (a gift to parents, too!) and provide fun memories. A Christmas money saving tip is to make a snowman, a snow fort, have a snowball fight or go sledding (instead of spending money). Live in a warm-weather climate? Try a trip to the beach or a nearby hike. If your child gets overexcited over the holiday season, read How to Reduce Stress at Christmas for Kids.

7. Have a Christmas card signing party. In lieu of gifts to friends, an easy way to save money at Christmas is to prepare holiday cards together. Ask each attendee to bring cookies or an appetizer. You provide drinks, tables to write on, and plenty of pens. The fun will provide more memories than a gift and incur no stress, and is good way to brainstorm gift ideas!

8. Give the Christmas gifts you can afford. Don’t give what your mother believes she deserves, a gift equal to what your sister-in-law gave you last year, or whatever unrealistic measure might be luring you toward overspending. Consider making a homemade gift — such as a Christmas Tree stocking.

9. Give the gift of time. Think of activities you can do all through the holiday season, rather than just purchasing a gift. The gift of time and caring can mean much more than a present – for both giver and recipient. Shovel snow for an elderly neighbor, or get a group together to surprise neighbors with an old-fashioned caroling party.

10. Get creative with homemade holiday gift coupons. Another Christmas money saving tip is to get into the at-home “gift card” tradition with homemade coupons. Kids can give parents coupons for prized commodities like “No whining” or “No begging.” Parents can offer up unexpected treats kids love, like “Make cookies together,” “Get out of one punishment free” or “Choose candy for movie night.” Or, buy an Gift Card – it’s one of my favorite Christmas gift ideas!

So remember that a Merry Christmas doesn't have to equal an empty wallet!


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