Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Is More Than a Holiday....

Today I'm going to keep it simple and share this video with you. 
I promise, it will make you smile.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Panic Setting In...

It's Monday morning BEFORE Thanksgiving and as usual, my Christmas panic is setting in. So many things on my mind about what needs to be done and so many thoughts about what could have already been done. What shopping or gift cards I could of bought during the year, what projects on Pinterest I could have actually made already, the cookie dough I could of made and put in the freezer...and the list goes on. Although I think about Christmas all year long, some years I definitely get more prep done then others. So let me think hypothetically. If I could be prepared and life was perfect, what WOULD I have done already.

1. The gifts purchased so far, would all be in boxes, numbered and ready to wrap.
2. The gifts for my employees would be purchased for the year.
3. I'd have a nice stack of gift cards waiting in my drawer, after budgeting for them throughout the year.
4. I'd be pulling a nice sum of cash out of our Christmas Savings account.
5. I'd have have at least 15 freezer meals prepped and ready to go for those busy days in December.
6. I'd have 3 different cookie doughs premade and in the freezer.
7. I'd have my dessert choices finalized for the month ahead, so I can makes sure I have all the ingredients.
8. I'd have my advent swap gifts all purchased, wrapped and ready to go.
9. I'd have an idea at least, as to what I am going to buy everyone this year.
10. I'd have my carpets cleaned already.
11. I'd have my nice dishes washed already.

So, there's just part of my list. I'm sure if I thought hard enough, I could go on and on. HOWEVER, I'll stop there and let reality analyze this situation. Some years, I'm able to purchase more gifts then others and this year happens to be one of those years I won't be purchasing as many as I'd like. With that said, I wish I had made more gifts, but then I remind myself that this year my priority was getting Ciara off to college. The time, just wasn't there and no amount of pondering is going to change that. 

Next, saving Christmas money. Well, in order to save Christmas money, you have to have extra money and let's just say...It's been one of those years around here and the bank account just isn't as Plump as Santa's belly! But as always, I'm thankful for a roof over our head and food on the table. Really, in this day and age, it's so much more then many have and I remind myself of that everyday. On the plus side, I'd say at least half of the gifts I do have are boxed like I like them and ready to wrap. If i could have it my way, all my gifts would be boxed. It's one of those "things" I prefer, but have learned to "let go" the last couple years. Somehow, I don't think anyone is going to turn away that new shirt I bought them, because it's not in a box. In my case, they might celebrate, because they say I use to my tape on my boxes anyway.

I don't have freezer meals prepped this year, but I just spent a hunka...hunka..money at Costco to stock the fridge and make sure we have food to cover the month ahead. If I follow a weekly menu and just think ahead, I'll be set and my trips to the grocery store will be limited. Avoiding the cost of eating out during the busy month is ultimately my goal and having food already purchased helps with that stupendously.

As far as baking goes, I just need to breath and remind myself....baking is a time to enjoy, not a time to stress. In reality, I'm not a cookie maker. I don't have the patience to be a cookie maker. Now, I bake cookies, but on a limited basis during the holidays. I'd much rather make a cheesecake or try a new bundt cake recipe. So know that you will NEVER receive a plate full of cookies from Michelle. It's just not going to happen...that's what cookie swaps are for!

I'll finish with my house. My house, is a 10 year "project" waiting to happen. However, somehow we still celebrate Birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas just fine. Would I love to have a completed bathroom...absolutely!  In the mean time, I'll keep inviting those I love and care about, over to create memories. And I'll probably still be running around all day long, washing dishes, cooking and setting a nice table at the last minute.

All of the above, covers the materialistic portion of the holiday. Although, it's not the "reason for the season", it's all things that we invision will make the holiday season run smoother. Regardless of what I have planned, regardless of what I woulda or coulda done, Christmas is coming!!!  The lights, the music, family, laughter, memories, comfort, compassion, and giving. For each of us, Christmas will arrive at a different time this year. Keep your hearts open!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Will You Do With Your Extra Christmas Cards?

How many extra cards do you end up with after completing your Christmas Card list? Do you toss them? Do you donate them? Do you put them aside thinking "I'll use them again next year?"

Well this past week, I was reminded by a few friends on Facebook of a great program, to honor our military heroes; Holiday Mail for Heroes. I'm not exactly sure at what point I stopped doing this, most likely when I became a mom and my attention was turned elsewhere, but in my early 20's I would always include military service men and women in my Christmas card list. It's awesome to think about them year around, but during the holidays it can bring a definite sparkle of cheer, during a difficult and lonely time for many.

So this year, I've decided that all of my extra cards are going to be sent off. I don't know how many that will be yet, but however many, I've dedicated myself to mailing them to the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Nothing says you care more, then taking a few minutes to hand write a note. Sending cards, letters and thank you notes is something that doesn't happen often enough these days. Emails and typed letters are great, but hand written letters can become a treasure.

Your holiday card should be addressed to the following address and the deadline date is December 6th. 

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Here are some additional guidelines listed on the Red Cross site. 

Every card received will be screened for hazardous materials and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working around the country.
Please observe the following guidelines to ensure a quick reviewing process:

  • Ensure that all cards are signed.
  • Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.
  • Only cards are being accepted. Do not send or include letters.
  • Do not include email or home addresses on the cards: the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.
  • Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos: these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
  • Please refrain from choosing cards with glitter or using loose glitter as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured warriors.
  • If you are mailing a large quantity of cards, please bundle them and place them in large mailing envelopes or flat rate postal shipping boxes. Each card does not need its own envelope, as envelopes will be removed from all cards before distribution.
Here's a short news clip, showing exactly how the program works.

Here's another video, showing deliveries in action.

It might be a little late this year, but why not host a card making party next year. And if you do, don't forget the children. It's a great learning experience and service opportunity for youth of all ages. As seen in the previous video, sometimes those homemade cards from the kids are their favorites and mean the most.

After watching several videos on Holiday mail for Heroes activities, I'm also going to commit to making my Veterans Day in 2014 more productive and host a card making party. So all my friends, mark your calendar and keep Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 open.

Now, I'll end with a Hallmark happy moment. This didn't come to mind, until after I started this post, but if you've read my blog at all, you'll know that I'm a huge Hallmark Channel Christmas movie junkie. I DVR them, I watch them year around. November thru December, my dial pretty much stays on the Hallmark channel. I don't always watch them minute, by minute, but they are on in the background most of the time and just the familiarity of it all makes me smile. One of my favorites is The Christmas Card. I've watched this particular one, so many times that even my husband  took notice last year. I guess I compare it to the Matrix or True Lies. No matter when those movies are on TV, my husband will be watching them. Last year, Hallmark did a viewer survey about which Hallmark Christmas movie was the viewers favorite and hands down, The Christmas Card won. It's not an award winning movie, but I think it's the spirit of that connection that so many talked about about in the videos I've shared. If you'd like to see a preview, check it out HERE :

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Procrastinated Crafting

My brain's been going 5 different ways with Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. I always have a few loose ends to finish up after each holiday, so this past weekend I had some time and wanted to work on "Unfinished" projects and as always, most of those were holiday related. I painted and glittered a letter M, that I found at the thrift store.  I finished some Halloween houses I'd converted from Dollar Tree Christmas villages. I made vinyl letting for some Christmas signs I started at Super Saturday. And last, but not least, I finished a Valentines frame that's been sitting in my craft closet for at least 5 years. I had a mini celebration in my chair over that one.

This unfinished project list, had me thinking about other blogs and how they have their homes picture perfect and ready for the holidays a month in advance. I've been blogging for several years now, but by no means am I a professional or reached a point of doing this for profit. So my question is, how do these people live in the moment? Anyone care to share how this behind the scenes prep works? I don't know any professional bloggers, so I'm curious. Do you really have your house decorated for Christmas already or are your photos from last year? If you have kids, how do you live in the moment, rather then the next holiday ahead? I get that it's a business for most, but I'm curious how this works?

After really thinking about this the last few days, I've given myself permission to enjoy "Procrastinated Crafting".  If I craft during this holiday season, it's okay to enjoy it NEXT YEAR.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm often making ornaments in July and small gifts here and there, but when I see Christmas ideas now and something I want to make, most likely it's not going to get done in a day. Most likely it's not going to get done till a week or two before Christmas or maybe it was a last minute project and I'll only get to enjoy it for a few days before having to pack it up for the year. But does that make it any less special??? Nope..I don't think so. When I start unpacking and find that "surprise" decoration the following year, it always makes me smile with delight.

I say this not to promote last minute crafting, but rather to live in the moment. Be realistic with yourself. When you find something you'd like to complete before Christmas, will there be time or can you give yourself permission to buy the supplies knowing it will be completed after Christmas? Either way, don't beat yourself up. Live in the crafting moment!