Monthly Archives: November 2012

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Advent!

We’ve all been doing it.  Pouring over Pinterest hour after hour prepping ourselves for this very month(ish) of holiday wonderment.

We’re all putting our Elves on our Shelves next to glazed donut cheerios.
We’ve all seen three million different ways to decorate cone forms as tabletop christmas trees.
Everybody and their mother’s got the family initial in an evergreen wreath on their front door.

But move over, burlap stocking DIY.  There’s one showstopper we’ve ALL got on our list.  That my friend, is the glorious DIY Advent Calendar!  Remember when those things were just fancy packages for candy and trinkets?  Oh Pinterest!  You laugh at such an antiquated notion!  Now instead of treats, each pocket is supposed to be filled with holiday themed activities.  24 of them for each December day before Christmas.

If you’re like me, at first you lit up at the idea of packing every magical December day with a fresh new memory for the spouse and children you love so dearly!  Hot cocoa and popcorn and Charlie Brown Christmas one night.  Tickets to “The Nutcracker” the next!  Holiday light viewing another night!!  A Christmas tree slumber party the next?!!!

Then reality sets in.  You don’t even know how you’re going to get your Christmas shopping in, let alone make time for the graham cracker snowman craft you’ve had pinned on your “Kiddos” board for the last three months.  Not to mention, like, the boring normal life stuff.  Work, laundry, exercise…  Oddly, the stuff that makes you busy and behind schedule in September is still there in December, no matter how much holiday magic you’d rather cram in instead.

So, call me a realist.  I know I can’t actually do everything I pin.  But at the same time, I now have this amazing Advent Calendar ready to hang, and nothing to put inside it!  (Giving my kids chocolate for breakfast every morning just doesn’t thrill me.  What can I say?)

Today, however, I had an epiphany.  My house isn’t ready to decorate yet.  I forgot to get out my Elf on a Shelf yesterday.  We’ve yet to officially ENTER the holiday season at this house, and frankly, the to-do list, albeit most enjoyable, can be a bit overwhelming when I think about my other responsibilities.  Exactly what all is even on my holiday to-do list?

Hm…  Well, for sure I’ll want to

  1. Put up the tree
  2. Light the tree
  3. Decorate the tree
  4. Take pictures of the kids next to the tree
  5. Hang the stockings
  6. Put out our nativity
  7. Read Elf on a shelf
  8. Make something pretty for my dining table.
  9. Decorate our windows.
  10. Wrap gifts
  11. Buy or make cards
  12. Sign and send cards
  13. Christmas baking

    AND THEN there’s the scheduled Christmas activities through various groups we’re involved in…

  14. Christmas Kids (and Parents) Night Out
  15. Christmas Groove Concert
  16. Pre-K Christmas Program
  17. Church Christmas Pageant
  18. Oh!  And Church Christmas Pageant Dress Rehearsal!
  19. School Christmas Party
  20. Work Christmas Party (Which for us, happens to be kid friendly!  Yay!)
  21. Christmas Eve Church services

    Hm… Well, those are interesting numbers.  At some point, we’d probably also like to

  22. Go for a drive to look at lights.
  23. Watch a Christmas movie with the kids
  24. Read a Christmas story book
  25. Make a craft or present with the kids
  26. Play in the snow
  27. Volunteer or donate to a worthy cause
  28. OR stay in our pajamas all day…

What do you know! There’s nothing on this list that my three year old (or even 1 year old) can’t participate in on some level!  And that’s way more than 24 items… all of which we’re intending to do ANYWAY!  Advent activity countdown, or no!

So, get smart people!  You CAN have it all… okay maybe not it all, but if you approach the classical Pinteresty advent activity thing as an organizational tool, rather than just another way to overextend yourself this holiday, it can actually REMOVE holiday stress from your month rather than compound it!

Sure, it’s a simple notion, just write everything on slips of paper and stick it in your advent countdown device thingy of choice.  Sync it with your calendar, and keep a few simple substitutes on hand in case you need to switch out a big plan for a simpler plan one day  (Heck!  Maybe that’s where the candy comes in!).  But then your Christmas to-do list is organized, broken down day by day, and done in a slow and steady way that involves your kids!  What could be better?

Did I miss anything on my list?  What are some of your absolute HAVE-TOs during the holidays?

 

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Categories: Activities, children, Christmas, DIY | 1 Comment

The New Star of Thanksgiving Dinner!

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So your menu is planned and you’re all set for Thanksgiving dinner. The family is all going to be there and everyone is going to gain 10 lbs on Thursday. Tis the season to forget about calories, and enjoy the rich, starchy, creamy and fat-filled deliciousness that will grace the table as we remember to be thankful for all we have. AND NOT ONE OF YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT!! You can’t skimp on Thanksgiving foods. Go big or go home.

Everyone raves about the turkey, and the stuffing/dressing rocks your socks off. Mashed potatoes/gravy? That dish alone accounts for over half the weight of your Chinet plate as you pile it high. Some families, like mine, go nuts over the homemade noodles. (My mom is bringing my great aunt Jeannette’s famous noodle recipe to our dinner this year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!) And I know some of you crazies out there are excited to get your hands on a huge helping of sweet potato casserole! (Not my bag, but more power to ya.) And the battle continues over which is better: homemade cranberry sauce, or sliced up disks of the gelatinous canned variety. (My vote is for the disks!)

And one dish that will likely appear on your table, but tends to take a backseat to the other more prominent features of Thanksgiving dinner, is the lowly GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. No one ever says that’s their favorite holiday food, they just don’t. And yet, there is an unspoken obligation to include it on the menu. Well, my friends- this is the year that changes. I’m going to give you my personal secret recipe for green bean casserole, and I guarantee it will change the way you and your family feel about the oft overlooked sad dish. This takes it to a new level and skyrockets the forgotten delicacy to a family fave. AND, if you are attending Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s home and looking for the perfect dish to bring and share, I’m telling you, this is the thing to take. It’s super simple, but will make you the hero of the day.

Here’s what you need: a square pyrex dish or other casserole dish
3 cans green beans (drained)
2 cans cheddar cheese soup (I use Campbell’s)
1 packet onion soup mix
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 oz french fried onions

Here’s what you do: Preheat the oven to 350. In your casserole dish, mix green beans, cheddar cheese soup, onion soup mix, and 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. Mix until combined. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and then top with the french fried onions. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 more minutes.

IT’S THAT EASY! And you have my personal guarantee it will be well-received. It is my humble opinion that this is hands-down the greatest green bean casserole, ever. Try it this year and tell me if you don’t agree.

Have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your friends and family. Take time to consider all that you have with a grateful heart. What a fantastic holiday!
*Don’t forget that the last episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will be on ABC next Monday night. It’s the Thanksgiving Special and it features one of my best friends from college. Grab your kleenexes and don’t miss this excellent show!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish, and are you willing to share your recipe in the comments section? Some smartypants out there are still trying to plan their menus, help a girl out!!

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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