Friday, December 15, 2017

15 Minutes of Relaxation

It's that time of year where many of us are in the midst of stress.

It's stressful to deal with weather, and the overexcitement of children, the extra duties that come with the holiday's. And yes, it's stressful to shop with a deadline!

And while I'm much more relaxed now that my shopping and baking are complete, I still need to make time for me. To let the mind and body relax.

Today I took a warm bath while listening to relaxing music. And yes, it was relaxing enough that I took a deep relaxing breath, maybe even a few times.

Last night I made a cup of tea, snuggled up on the couch under a blanket and read a book on my phone for thirty minutes. Me thinking what others need. No worries about what needed to get done.

I'm also a fan of meditation. The guided versions that remind me to relax my body. So many can be found online for free. You will find your body really likes to relax if you give it space to do so.

Can you do yourself a favor?

Take 15 minutes to relax every day. See if you can't make yourself a priority for 15 minutes each day until the end of the year. Just imagine what a gift that will be for you to yourself! You deserve it. We all do.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Healthy Snacks For Stressful Times

I'm pretty sure I'm a stress eater.

But in the last few weeks, I've noticed that I'm picking better snacks to eat during stressful and non stressful times. I thought I'd share, so that you too might be inspired to make healthier choices. Of course, pick the snacks that work for you!

Mandarin Oranges
They are back in season! They are sweet. They are easy to peel thus getting to eat immediately. And usually, I don't crave a second or third, like I do after eating a piece of fudge!

Apples & Peanut Butter
I do love peanut butter! Lately I've been making sure to only scoop out a tablespoon to have with my apple. I'm trying to make sure the apple is the star of this snack rather than the peanut butter. Once I remember to pick some up, I'm going to switch to almond butter.

Hummus & Celery
I discovered this hummus recipe a few months ago and it is fantastic! And then a friend sent a link to this article that has recipes for FOUR other kinds of hummus. I've tried the one with spinach and artichokes. Yummy! I have left out the tahini at times and found it tastes just as good, but still better with it. And my favorite item to devour the hummus with right now is celery. The crunch of the celery is just as good as munching on chips when it is dipped in hummus.

What is your go to healthy snack during the winter months?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wrapping Up Christmas

This was a fairly light week in regards to Christmas preparations.

All items that were ordered online arrived in the mail over several days this week. By Friday, I was able to get everything wrapped! Yes, my Christmas wrapping is done. Happy dancing!!

I picked up the last Christmas stocking stuffer, only to have two arrive in the mail that were the wrong colors. I now need to return those and find replacements. At least those items will not need to be wrapped.

Since I have the packages wrapped, I was able to put the ones I'm mailing in boxes. I mentioned on the Facebook group that you can pay for postage online with the US postal service and have packages picked up my your regular mail person. I plan to do that later in the month when it is actually time for mailing.

I made dough for a new cookie recipe we are trying this year. They are Double Chocolate Mint cookies. The cookies have been baked and frozen Since they need to be dipped in chocolate, I am doing that part just before we gift them after mid month. We are also considering making butter cookies, but I'm on the fence about the need to make those. My thought is we have enough and don't need to add more sugar to be eaten. That will save us some time in the kitchen if I skip those.

For the most part our preparations are complete, we are really to the point of enjoying the festivities in our town and in our home. I've watched a couple Christmas movies and have one or two more that I hope to catch. I'm really looking forward to our college daughter returning home and spending time together as a family. Most likely we will eat, play games and watch movies together. I think and hope for it to be restorative time for all of us.

I hope your holiday plans are coming together! Did your preparations in November help make December less stressful this year? If you are still in the midst of the busyness, remember to consider if what is on your list is important. If not, cross it off!

And finally, remember to take time to relax and enjoy!! Christmas is no fun for anyone if we are stressed out.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It's December!

It's December! Are you ready for your year end holiday festivities?

I did get more accomplished in the last days of November and feeling really good. No stress!

The most exciting accomplishment was finishing up nearly ALL of my shopping! I just have one gift to order from Amazon after I receive a recently ordered gift card. And I will pick up the final stocking stuffers at the grocery store when I shop this week.

I wrapped more gifts as they arrived in the mail. And I need to make note here that next year, I need to set up my gift wrap center like I did four years ago. It was up on a craft table. Wrapping on the floor is for younger more flexible people! Ha.

We did more baking. And yes, I purchased the ingredients to do so as well. We made ginger crinkle cookies. Originally I just made one batch, but after I made them realized that I likely made two last year to use up all the molasses. I need to remember this next year as well. I will note this in my planner. So a couple days later we made another batch. We also made some chocolate caramel pretzels. They were tedious and messy to make. They taste great, but we will likely never make them again. We still have two other cookies to make in the coming week or two.

Separate from Christmas preparations, I made our meal plan for most of December. This is so valuable to me this time of year. I tend to be thinking of so many additional things that basic planning for meals can be forgotten and then cause us to pick up more fast food. This is not good for my body or our wallet.  I do currently have one night planned to eat out because that will be enjoyable and a nice break from making food at home. And it is now budgeted, too!

And finally, I've been staying on top of cleaning here at our home this week. I have abandoned zone cleaning for December and will pick back up in January. This month, I'm just making a point of spending short amounts of time on something that needs to be cleaned. This week, I wiped down appliances while waiting for water to bowl. Another day I washed a comforter and sheets. I also had help yesterday to clean floors. I vacuumed and my husband did the hardwoods. There isn't really a plan, other than mentally making a point to do something. I already expect I will clean bathrooms tomorrow. And I think I will dust another day this week, probably while listening to Christmas music! Oh, and before I go to the store, I will wipe the shelves inside the refrigerator!

I hope you are getting what you need and want done. It is a busy time of year, make sure to be kind to yourself and take breaks.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Christmas Missions Completed: Week Four

I accomplished quite a bit more this week than last week. I hope you have also been making great use of the time in November to get some things done that will relieve the busyness and stress of the holiday season.

Bought Baking Ingredients
I bought most of my baking ingredients for the season while I was buying Thanksgiving groceries. I still have more to pick up at the store this coming week.

More Gift Buying
I bought a few more gifts this week. All online.

Gift Research
Spent time figuring out gift ideas for people on my list. This will help me get more shopping done in the coming week!

Wrap Gifts
I had intentions last week to get some wrapping done, but this week I actually did wrap about ten different items! More items are arriving in the mail this week, so I intend to wrap more on Friday afternoon.

Made Fudge
What starts the holiday weekend off like making dessert? My daughter and I made peanut butter fudge Tuesday after school. It has been taste tested, cut into very small squares and boxed up for the freezer.

Decorated For Christmas
Last year we decorated in stages, but this year we did it all in one afternoon. Twenty minutes at the most spent to put up a string of lights and put out my tomato cage tree (which is already set up). Next up was our main tree, which I will guess took 45 minutes for three of us to decorate. And finally, another 30 minutes to put our second tree up in our bonus room. I did have to buy more lights for that tomato cage tree. It wasn't easily accessible to test earlier this month and the lights were only partially working. This gave me an opportunity to upgrade to the LED version, so worth the extra trip to pick up new lights.

Next week, I hope to complete a majority of my Christmas shopping, as well as buying the final baking ingredients. I expect we will bake another one or two of our planned holiday cookies. I will wrap again. And because this week will turn to December, I will also do my December meal planning. I need to remember to double up a couple recipes and make use of the slow cooker to make some evenings easier!

What did you accomplish this week? What will you complete next week?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Christmas Missions Completed: Week Three

Yes, I know it's still November but I've accomplished quite a bit this week for our Christmas preparations. I have found it is key to reducing stress and enjoying the holiday more. I'm sharing what I have done to keep me motivated and possibly inspire you along the way.

Sewing Project Complete
I completed the pajama pants and matching doll pajamas for my niece this week. They both turned out fantastic! I only had one mistake I had to correct (luckily that was early in the project). I specifically made the point to get this done early. I knew I didn't want to be frantically trying to put something together in December!

This week was full of shopping. I wouldn't say I was very efficient at it, but I did find several gifts on my list to cross off. Some of the shopping was in stores, and a few things were bought online. There is still more to do, but I have made a good progress for mid November.

Thanksgiving Meal Planning
We are staying home for Thanksgiving this year. There will only be the three of us here. So I've been browsing recipes and ideas on Pinterest. I finally decided we are going to make Pot Pies (two chicken, one vegetarian) and a side salad. This will be more than filling. And yes, I think the required pumpkin pie is also on the menu.

That seems like a short list of completed tasks, but I am very pleased with what I got done. Everything I do now in November helps ease the stress and busyness of the holiday. I also made sure to take some time to relax. I even watched a movie one afternoon!

What can tasks could you do this week to prepare for your holidays?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Christmas Missions Completed: Week Two

November is the key to less stress in December! Trust me. I think this is my fourth year working in advance. And if it didn't work, I wouldn't keep working ahead each year. Here's what I accomplished this week to prepare for Christmas:

Purchased Christmas Lights
I mentioned last week, that I discovered a burnt out set of lights when I checked them. This week, I made a point to get them purchased, so they will be ready for decorating day!

More Brainstorming
I did a lot more brainstorming for gift ideas. Probably too much, since I used Pinterest to help me a little bit. Having the extra time to think in November helps so much with the stress level. So much less pressure in November. This brainstorming also included talking to my husband about gifts and his ideas.

Ordered Stamps and Boxes
I was going to pick up postage stamps and boxes this week at the post office. I thought I'd be in the area. As it turns out, my plans changed. So to get another item off my list, I ordered my book of stamps and about five USPS Priority mail boxes online. The boxes are free! I did pay an extra $1.25 for handling on my stamps. I decided it was worth it to me.

Not the stamps I purchased

Ordered Photo Prints
I placed an order for photos online, as part of a gift. This is a long overdue task for this person, so it felt good to remember to get this done! I ordered through and they will be ready to pick up in a couple days. I could have done One Hour processing, but I wasn't going to be over that way, so I paid a little less for slower processing. I hope to have some other items to pick up there when run that errand.

Finalized Our Baking Plan
Our youngest daughter likes to bake. So I had a discussion with her this week about which items we would bake this year. She said no to one of my favorites, but picked another one that I expect will be just as good! Next steps are to schedule the baking on the calendar, make a complete list of ingredients to buy, and then buy the ingredients on sale just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Purchased Fabric
I'm making one of my nieces pajama pants to match the pajamas I'm making her American Girl doll. This week I went to the fabric store to purchase the fabric and other items needed. I even came home and washed, dried and ironed the fabric! Next step is to cut the fabric.

For illustration only :)

Baking Ingredient List
Once we decided what we were making, I got around to making the list of ingredients I needed. I counted up how many cups of sugar from each recipe to determine how many bags I might need. Luckily only one! I did the same thing with all the other common ingredients.

The list seems kind of long, but none of it took too long to accomplish. A little bit of time each day making progress towards what I want to accomplish for Christmas preparations. I'm feeling really good about my progress so far. I'm secretly hoping I can be done shopping by the beginning of December.

Tell me what you are doing to prepare for your holidays. Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away, are you prepared for it?