Sunday, December 23, 2012

Take A Bough: Sprucing Up the Bathroom

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!
   Our Christmas tree  is 8 feet by 10 feet this year.  We had planted rows of trees as a wind break a over a decade ago and they were getting crowded so one became our holiday tree.
     When we put up the Christmas tree we had to trim a few branches.  My son asked if we could tuck the extras around the manger.  Then he came up with this fabulous idea.

    He suggested we put the spruce branches in the bathroom to make it smell nice for the holidays.  I had decided to take a cue from my family this year and not just decorate from my own expectations.

    I used a vase we already owned and arranged a few sprigs in it.  It looks cute and smells wonderful.  You could add a ribbon or ornament for a more polished festive arrangement.

    Now I don't have to buy any chemical laden fake pine air freshener or worry about an unattended candle. This simple decoration was made from something we would have tossed anyway, making it a great frugal family project.  Next year I would love to learn to make a wreath for the front door or gather pine cones in a bowl for another natural seasonal decoration.  Thanks for the inspiration out of the mouths of babes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Casual Christmas: 5 Sanity Savers for the Season

Waiting for Christmas can take all month!
     The holidays mean many things to many people.  I shared many of my happy childhood traditions last year in my post Advent-ure.  The holiday time is joyful.  It is also extremely busy.  There are many ways to fill up the month with preparations and parties.

     This year I have a new outlook on the big day.  Would you like to hear it? It is just ONE day.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the wonder of Christmas.  I'm just saying that I am not going to spend every waking moment hustling to create the perfect day.  For one thing, after all that work I'm sure to be disappointed.  No amount of fanfare on the big day is going to satisfy me after all that labor!  So here is what I am keeping in mind:

1. What is really necessary?  

2. What are my limits?

3. Who can help?

4. What do I want from this holiday?

5. Who am I doing this for?

     One way I plan to reduce stress is to knock baking off the to do list.  I am debating about the cards.  I really like to keep in touch with friends and family.  However if the cute family photo shoot doesn't happen it won't be the end of the world.  

   I am shopping local.  In addition to the lack of travel time, I am supporting a wonderful product Save It Bags. They are a practical gift for all the school lunchers on my list. My kids have fun picking out special fabrics for everyone. 

   I will not head to the mall.  We have wonderful small shops in town.  Whatever I can't find there, such as Legos, I can buy online.  I also have an awesome personal shopper.  She calls me whenever she finds something and picks up for me.  Thanks, you are the best!

   I will reduce decorating.  The tree and manger will be featured.  We will cut a big pine from our yard where we planted them over a decade ago. We will decorate together.  Whatever the family wants to do in one afternoon will be enough.

    I will limit our Christmas activities.  We attend an annual children's party featuring a magician, hayrides, sledding and a visit from Santa.  It is a wonderful event that my family enjoys.  Since the big guy will be there, we don't need to visit him anywhere else in town.

   My mother-in-law pulled together an early Christmas within a few days of being in the hospital.  You may be wondering how and so did I.  She shopped for toys and had a simple dinner of a deli platter and side salads.  Instead of focusing on the big meal hubbub, we were able to appreciate the delight as the children opened gifts and had time to talk over the table.  It was a relaxing Christmas gathering and shouldn't we enjoy our holiday time together?  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Play It Again, Ham: 10 Hearty Ham Dishes

     I found a big ham for 99 cents a pound at the store.  The kids had friends over on Friday night and it fed the crowd with plenty to spare.  For our company night I served the ham with mac and cheese and mixed veggies.  I've often used leftovers to make a new dinner creation.  The great thing about ham I found is that it can be used for any meal.  Good luck with your sequels!

10 Hamtastic Meals:

1. Ham steaks for breakfast with eggs.

2. Chef Salad  with ham and chicken, turkey, or roast beef

3. Scalloped Potatoes

4. Pea Soup

5. Ham Sandwiches

6. Ham Salad Sandwiches

7. Ham and Broccoli Pie

8. Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets/Calzones

9. Bean Soup

10. Scrambled eggs with diced ham/ Denver Omelet