Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Twentyone - R & R

You've come to learn that on Sundays my post are to review the week and rest up for the new week ahead. Today is no exception. You probably also know that I'm behind in posting.

I won't lie writing for 31 days is hard. Yes, harder than I thought especially since I thought I had chosen a topic that would come easily to me and easy enough to jump back in with. In the beginning I was even a few days ahead in my writing usually by 2 or 3 days but life goes on and stuff happens.

My son got sick with "something" still don't know with what and that's after a trip to the hospital to have x-rays and blood work, all which came back negative or inconclusive...fabulous! He recovered with several days of rest, by the following weekend dear sweet hubby was with sick similar symptoms but still it left us wondering what was going around and who might be next. Guess who was next? Yes, me! Luckily I saw it coming and upped my vitamins, herbs and essential oils, it didn't keep me down too long. Who's got time to be sick anyway?

I've also tried to keep up with a few of the other 31 day blogs, there are so many great ones, but that to can eat up so much of our time. I will direct you soon to some of my favorites for you to find some time to enjoy and learn from.

Throw in the rest of the busyness that life seems to include these days and there you have it...behind.

I'm so very sorry, but I do have every intention of getting these 31 days written. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Twenty - Family Time During the Holidays

We like to designate a time or times for our family during Christmas, sounds crazy but if we don’t plan for it ahead of time something or someone else will take it from us. A time just for the four of us, my darling hubby, the two kiddos and myself but this time can be for really whomever you wish to include.

We have a few rules. No shopping or errands, it will include a fun or special treat restaurant for dinner and we all have to agree to where we are going and what we are going to do. It has varied for us almost every year. We have seen the Rockettes, the Nutcraker, we’ve gone to the movies together or simply to look at Christmas lights.  But each year we have enjoyed an activity together. 

Some years it’s been very planned and other years not so much. Since the kids are getting older and their interests are changing, we like to change up what we do. But we are hopeful that whatever we choose that they will remember and cherish the memories and time together.

Whether this is already a tradition for your family or you have never done anything like that before, start looking now. There are lots of great shows or activities to do together, if they require tickets the sooner you decide the better, you don’t want it sell out. Don’t let your ideas only consist of those that will cost money. As I said some of our activities are been simply getting in the car to go look at Christmas lights. We’ve made hot chocolate and had a sing-a-long to Christmas songs in the car as we drove around.

Some other ways to spend time together as a family might be to spread Christmas cheer to others or for some down time together at home; we’ll talk more about that soon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Nineteen - Meal Planning

We’ve talked about holiday cooking and baking needs along with cleaning out our pantry, now let’s talk about meal planning during the holidays.

What about your normal everyday meal needs? Start with looking at your calendar. What kind of events will you need to attend, especially during the week when cooking dinner could present more of a challenge than normal? Having a plan in place {if you don’t already} for which meals you’ll eat at home versus out along with what you might serve will help make this a little less stressful. Have you considered preparing some meals to have in the freezer? We’ve cleaned out the freezer, so we’ve got room.

I know I always have the best intentions to eat at home as much as we can. It never seems to fail though that for one reason or another we have to eat out more than I had hoped for, mostly due to poor planning.

How nice would it be to have meals ready to heat and eat?  It would help ensure that you eat at home more which is almost always healthier and cheaper than eating out. Preparing a few casseroles or soups now to pull out later will make life a little easier during the busy Christmas season.

Once you’ve decided on what you will cook and you have the supplies ready, plan a day to cook. Do this before things get busy and your calendar gets full. Make time to prepare meals to have in the freezer ready to cook for your family when you need it.

Most people that I know that prepare meals ahead take a day to do it all at once. Then you only mess up your kitchen once, you’ll do all of your chopping & preparing for several meals in one day. Having just 3 or 4 of these in your freezer could be big lifesavers later.

If by some chance you don’t use these meals you could always give them to someone else in need or use them in January when you want a night off from the kitchen.

If you are planning to include baked goodies as gifts you may want to see if you can prepare any of these ahead of time too and then plan a day to do that, if not then schedule it on your calendar for later.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Eighteen - Cleaning: The Pantry, Fridge & Freezer

I’m sure you were wondering when I would cover this. I almost did this one during the first week, but decided to wait and here’s why. It will just get messed up again. I know your thinking well of course it will. I’m not ready just yet, as you will see I save the BIG clean ups for later, then its just maintenance cleaning through the holidays. I hope that makes sense. In other words when I go into cleaning mode I want to know that I’ve completed a lot of the messy work already and my cleaning will stick so to speck.

On to cleaning out our pantries, refrigerator and freezers, basically I pull everything out and go through it. While you’re there really clean it, dust or wash the shelves and organize the items when you put them back, grouping items that need to be together are easier to find.

Check to dates and throw out expired items and make note of the items that you are low on {and know you will need}. The best part is that most of these items are plentiful in the stores right now and may even be on sale, most have coupons out there for you to use too.

Earlier we talked about holiday entertaining or baking needs, what recipes will you prepare? If you’ve had the chance to look these needs then you will have better idea of what to look for as you clean out these areas in your kitchen and to help your budget since you will know what you need to replace. Even if you are just taking a dish to a gathering having everything on hand can go a long way in helping you to enjoying a stress free holiday.
Make list of your needs spices, flavorings and basics like flour, sugar and butter along with the other items you see you need to stock up on.

I know in the past I “thought” I had everything only to have run back to the store or send someone to get it for me and hope that they get the right item. Let’s save ourselves from that stress. Take the time to plan and shop ahead and we’ll be ready.

I feel a more enjoyable {and less stressful} Christmas coming, don’t you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Seventeen- Crafts or Baking Projects with the Kids

What types of events do you & your families enjoy doing together over the holidays? I know that with the long break the kids can get board. Trust me that statement makes me cringe.  I really don’t remember being board growing up, but I wasn’t use to all of the instant gratification/entertainment that our kids seem to be.

I love the idea of bring kids back down to reality and to appreciate time together that we don’t get enough of with the crazy schedules we keep.  Giving them an opportunity to take a step back in time together, reconnecting to each other as well as creating those memories that they’ll reflect back on one day. Making something with their hands, being creative and learning from the experience.

Past projects for us have including making gingerbread houses, hosting cookie-decorating parties with friends and making ornaments as well as other projects. But as with the recurrent theme here, planning is key to keeping things fun and running smoothly regardless of what activity you plan.

Whether baking or crafting, Pinterest is a wealth of ideas for projects and ideas.  Luckily with most of these a few clicks and you have your supply list and directions ready for your use along with several photos to guide you. Just be realistic about your time & ability, this is meant to be a fun time not the start of something ugly!

Once you decide on what if any projects that you’ll do this year go ahead and add these items to your shopping list and have then ready to use once your ready to use them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Sixteen - Gifts for Others

Perhaps you covered this when you did your Christmas budget…but just in case you didn’t let’s look at gifts for others.

I’m thinking neighbors, teachers or a gift for a hostess.  As with pretty much every other area some times just taking the time to note the need and have some kind of rough plan will greatly reduce your stress levels.

For me I always seem to forget someone.  It never seems to fail I’m headed to a party and realize that I don’t have a little something for the hostess or the team mom approaches me at practice that we need gifts for the coaches or the kids are going to have a gift exchange…ugh!

So take a few minutes and think of all of the people in your life outside your family & friends that you may need to buy a gift for or might be asked to go in on.

Will you need to contribute money, buy a gift or maybe make or bake gifts?

Know what’s coming and be ready, that can go a long way to reducing your stress and allowing you to enjoy the holiday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thirty-one Days~ Day Fifteen - Updating our Christmas card lists

{sorry I'm behind I've had a sick child all weekend}

Now’s a great time before it gets much busier to update your Christmas card list.

Did any of your friends or family move?  Make a note of it now or call them if need be to have the correct address when the time comes

Has someone on your list passed away? Ok I know that may seem harsh, but my father in-law passed away earlier this year and when my mother-in-law has received some mail addressed to him or the both of them it’s been hard. So be sensitive to anyone on your list that may have lost a spouse.

I guess the same goes for divorce.

Do you need to add anyone new? Do you have any new friends or neighbors? Maybe there has been an addition to the family, nieces or nephews that have recently gotten married and started their own families.

And again maybe you need to remove someone all together?

Take the time to look at your list and update it, in most cases it shouldn’t take to long and it will help you to know how many cards you will need to buy. I just guessed last year and ran short by about 15 cards. So don’t wait, you could even pick up stamps now as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Fourteen - Review and Rest

Here we are at Sunday. For whatever reason this has been a very long week around here. We've made some process, but I still have a lot to do. I know that I need to rest.

I can't believe that two weeks are behind us, we're almost to the half way point. I also hope that you have found some useful tips or inspiration to begin to get ready for the Christmas season and to do so with less stress. Since we've done a lot of planning and prep work...we'll be ready!

Look back over the suggestions and ideas that we've talked about and see what areas still need to be addressed. Decide what you can work on this week and what can wait until later to tackle.

Enjoy a day to rest or maybe visit some of the other 31 Day blogs there are some great ones.

~Also this week we hope to get our Christmas card pictures taken. Still can't decide what the kids should wear???

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Thirteen - Gift-wrap and Batteries

Now let’s move on to an area that I’m always aware of but still seem to forget.

Batteries, tape, gift-wrap, gift-bags, boxes, ribbons and bows.  No, I don’t forget all or every part of it. But I do seem to over look one or two of these. Maybe I get gift-warp but need bows and boxes. Have batteries but not enough or the have the wrong size.

So today is kind of an easy one. Make a point to look at what you may have on hand and add what you need to your list of supplies to pick up, maybe you can even catch some sales and save money too.

I hope these reminders are helping you to begin to think now about what you need or will need to do and by doing a little at a time we’ll all enjoy a Christmas with less stress.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Twelve - Holiday Entertaining Part II

Continuing with the mindset of entertaining lets looks at our supplies.

Take time to look at your china or Christmas dishes and other plates or platters that you would use for parties or other entertaining events.  This will help you avoid discovering a crack or chip in something the day of your event and if you do see you if need something, you'll have the time to take care of it.

What about your linens? Do you have the right sizes? Are they in need of replacing? Do they need to be cleaned or pressed before your party? What about napkins or other paper products? 

What about candles and candlesticks?  See what you have versus what you will want to use. I know that red and white candles are always the first colors to sell out at the stores.  Checking on this now will ensure that you have the sizes and colors you want. 

What types of centerpieces will you have? Do you have a piece you pull out every year? If so then you may have already checked on this, if not take a look at it. How does it look? Do you like a fresh arrangement? You may want to begin to plan this and even speak with a florist.

Take a day to check these items so that you can take care of them ahead of time and not have any surprises at the last minute.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Eleven - Holiday Entertaining

What if any entertaining will you do this year?

In the past we have hosted a small party of 8 to 10 couples for a White Elephant party. This has always been a fun party that we all look forward to each year. Then for the last five years we have hosted Christmas dinner for my husbands family and mine. This usually includes a late lunch for around 20 or more.

If you are hosting, preparations ahead of time are huge to pulling this off and keeping your stress levels low. I enjoy a decorated house, but I have so much on my plate that I think I could pass on it most days. Having company gives me the motivation and deadline I need to get things done.

There’s a lot more to consider. Date, time, theme and maybe even location in addition to a guest list and invitations to prepare are just a few of the decisions you will need to make. You’ll need to plan a menu along with deciding who or how this food will be prepared. Will you need childcare for any of your entertaining, if so book it as soon as you have your date set? What will you wear?

Sit down with a calendar and a note pad. Write down what needs to be done and make notes of the days and dates to have these completed. Just having a rough plan can go a long way towards reducing the stress that some can experience from hosting friends and family during the holidays.

Also keep in mind that less can be more, most people aren't as concerned or critical about the details as we are as the hostess. Most of my family are relieved to have the hostess duties taken care of by someone else and are glad to bring a dish.

Again the best and most important tip here is to have a plan of what you are doing, what you need and time planned to make it all come together.  A lot of what we’ve already talked about as well as some of our remaining topics will help us to cover many of the aspects that go along with preparing for the Christmas season as well as entertaining; hopefully doing so with less stress.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thirty-one Days~ Day Ten - Taking Inventory

If you haven’t already it’s time to plan a day to go to the attic or basement and look at your Christmas decorations.

Check your lights, do you have any that have burned out?  What about your other decorations are they tired looking?  I use some artificial garland outside and some of mine looks really sad, so I know that I need to get a few pieces.

Bows don’t always fair well when being stored and ribbon can be expensive and hard to find after a few years. You may need time to find these and try to catch sales too.

Will you have a real tree or an artificial one? For a real tree, make sure you added it to your budget and if you use an artificial this is a good time to check it, along with wreaths and any other decorations or ornaments that you have. Make sure you don’t have any broken pieces, by checking these now you will have time to try and repair or replace them if possible. 

What about stockings, have you had an addition to your family, they will need a stocking. Shop early will help ensure more selection.

To sum it all up~

I think that the biggest tip here is to know what needs you have and include them in your budget. When you take care of these early you will have a better selection to choose from and the time to do some comparison-shopping to hopefully save you a few dollars in the process.   

Taking some time now will save you from stress and headaches latter.

Thirty-one Days~ Day Nine - Homemade Holidays

I thought that we needed to address this as soon as we could. Will make any of your Christmas gifts?

I’m not the craftiest person I wish I were. But I do have plans to “make” a few of our Christmas gifts. I have in the works a DVD for my husband of some photos and hope to make a photo book for grandparents.

My husband lost his dad this year and they were very close. So I want to get any photos that we have saved before anything happens to them.

These projects can take time & some thought. In addition I have to factor in print & shipping time with the photo book site. This is a pretty popular gift this time of year so I need to allow time to “get in line” at some point in the production of my books. Not to mention that I have other jobs and responsibilities that I have to take of. Thankfully the book for the grandparents will be the same book.

Decide on what gifts you will make this year, evening baking. Begin to think of whom you will give gifts to. How many you will need to make or what recipes you will prepare? What supplies will you need, what are your budget restraints, how much time will you need to complete your gifts?

Answering these questions will help you to be aware of your time and needs to formulate a plan to make some of your Christmas gifts. Hopefully you can even shop sales for your supplies if you have a good idea of what you will need.

If you’re making gifts plan a time to work on it and depending on how involved your gifts are to make, set a day or days (another appointment for yourself basically) or certain hours of the day to work to complete these projects and get them ready. But enjoy the process and reward of giving a gift with real thought for whoever receives it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Eight - Christmas Budget

This is pretty important area, money. I hate the words budget and limits but we need accountability plain and simple {or maybe it’s just me}. This is an area that I have seldom had a lot of success but am hopeful that this year can be different.

If you don’t have a budget now is the time to establish one. Nothing can ruin Christmas as fast as realizing that you’ve spent too much money.

Begin by determining your spending limits.

Be realistic if you aren’t paying with cash you will have credit card bills come January.  Maybe you can review last years spending. Really stop to consider all of your holiday spending needs. Don’t ignore gifts you are sharing the cost of with others like classmates or family.

A homemade gift or store bought?

When you are budgeting remember money for supplies for gifts you will make as well as gifts of money. This will allow you to better shop sales for gifts or supplies to make gifts.

You may also need to factor in other expenses into your budget like entertaining costs, babysitters, food, decorations, Christmas cards, postage or shipping cost and family outings i.e. tickets to shows maybe. Will you need to factor in any travel costs? ~ We will talk more about some of these areas a bit later in our 31 days.

Next create your list. Who will you be buying for?

Family, friends, neighbors, teachers, hostess gifts and any other gift needs you may have. Don’t forget gifts for people that help you throughout the year like babysitters. The sooner you identify who is on your list the sooner you can begin to plan. How much will you spend for each gift? By doing this you will be less likely to forget someone and have to rush out to buy something and risk over spending or giving a gift you really don’t like. This will also help you take advantage of sales when you know what you are looking for and what you can afford to spend. Will you be going in on some gifts with someone else? My children are on a gymnastic team and we go in with teammates for our coaches’ gifts, but I always seem to forget to add this one in.  

We have a few couple friends that we use to exchange gifts with, now we go out to a nice dinner together and catch up, no gifts just time for each other. Yes we are still spending money, but there is no stress of shopping and dealing with malls and all that comes with them; we’re creating memories and strengthening our relationships.

Every year I try and pretty much every year I fail to stick to my budget. In my defense our sons birthday is December 28th so I’m buying for both and tend to forget that some of what I’m buying is for his birthday, so I go get more for my daughter, to balance it out. It’s a vicious cycle and I one I’ve repeated often.

One area that we do get some relief in is family gifts. Several years ago money was very tight and our families decided to forgo gifts for the adults and only buy for the kids, our nieces & nephews.  Then we would stretch our money by getting a gift for our parents together or giving gifts like current photos or photo books of the kids. We have kept that tradition; it means fewer gifts to buy and less stress in the shopping and money department.

Also look at what or how you have bought for your family and friends in the past. Do you go overboard? Why? I would take a good look at that and see if you need to improve in this area.

In the past we have gone above and beyond for our kids, but in recent years we have tried to scale back. They now are allowed to ask for 5 things with the knowledge that they may or may not get all of them. Almost always there is a gift we can’t afford, don’t want them to have or it’s sold out. We usually aim to get 2 or 3 of the 5 gifts they have asked for and then add 1 or 2 items that we want them to have so there is some surprise to Christmas morning.

Do you have a gift closet {I had never heard of this until my mother-in-law}? If so start there. You may have some great deals you picked up months ago just sitting there. These could save you time & money. You could use these as your hostess gifts or your “just in case” gift for someone. Avoid impulse shopping if at all possible and when you have completed your list STOP. Don’t go shopping, don’t surf the web and maybe even throw out the catalogs or at least put them up.

Find a way to keep yourself on track with these perhaps some kind of computer program, app, spreadsheet or even just a notebook is better than nothing. Devise a way to keep up with your receipts, you may need to return an item or activate a warranty. This will also help you with planning next year. When you have a plan and have taken the time to budget for these you’ll be less likely you blow your budget and be depressed when bills begin to roll in in January. It’s just not worth the extra stress.

Remember above all else, Christmas isn’t about more, how much more can you spend or do. It’s not about the all of the ideas & stuff that the stores want to sell you. It’s about the birth of Christ. Give your family time not stuff and money. We try harder each year for it to be more about being with each other than what we can give each other. Creating memories and traditions over adding to our debt or our clutter.  Give gifts of love and kindness where and when you can. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Seven - A Little R & R

A little Review and Rest since day seven is a Sunday, I want us to spend more time with our families than with the 31 days. Let's take a few minutes and look back at all of the suggestions from this past week. I know that you may not need all of these. But of the ones that you did, which areas were you able to tackle and which ones still need your attention?

Did you decide on your Christmas cards?
Is there a DIY project on your to do list {or one that needs to be packed up until next year}?
Did you identify what areas outside your home need attention before winter gets here?
Was there anyone that needed a doctor’s appointment?
What about travel plans or offering to help a friend while they are away?

I know I’ve still got several items to work on, but I have a good start. This weekend we worked in our yard {it's more work than I realized -whew! not done yet but we've started}. Make time to look at these next week and work towards marking them off of your to do list, we have lots more to cover next week.

Thank you so much for coming and hanging out with me. I know if we have a plan and work on it a little each day, we’ll be have so much completed that we can all enjoy a stress free Christmas.

Take some time today to enjoy some of the other 31Day bloggers post. There are so many interesting topics to explore.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thiry-One Days ~ Day Six - Holiday Travel Needs

In keeping with the planning aspect of holiday preparations, will your Christmas plans have you traveling?

Now is a good time to get the details set, confirmed or get the ball rolling if you haven’t even begun.

Will your travel plans include…Air travel, Hotels, Car rental or airport shuttles?

Making and confirming schedules and reservations now could save you from headaches later.

What about your mail or your plants?

Will you need a house sitter or pet care while you are away?

Will you need to do any shopping to get ready to travel?

Will you need to ship any gifts ahead of time?

Check your luggage is it in good shape? What about prefilled travel size bottles of your favorite products or an empty set to fill with your own products? Get these ready now.

Take the time now to not just acknowledge these needs, but begin working on them.  You have the opportunity to greatly reduce confusion or other problems that can arise and therefore reduce your stress.

If you are lucky enough to stay home you may not need these tips. But do you have a friend or neighbor you know will be traveling? Could they use some help with these needs? A ride to the airport or their home watched and the mail brought in, you see where I’m going I think. What a great gift to give to someone during the holidays and it shouldn’t cost you anything and be of great help to them. What a great way to extend Christ’s love to another.

Now that this is on your mind it’s a great time to get your travel plans set and confirmed so that you don’t have to worry about it later

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thirty-One Days ~ Day Five -Sprucing Up Our Exteriors

Depending on where you live time could be a big factor in you ability to complete this task. So before any more of our precious time gets away let’s talk about sprucing up outside before winter hits.           

Do you need to have your gutters cleaned?

What about your windows?

Are there weeds in your flowerbeds?

Do you have bushes or trees that need trimming?

What do you need to get your home’s exterior ready not only for Christmas decorating, but also for winter?

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures’ are beginning to drop a little. So before your time to work is limited by conditions take stock of what needs to be done outside and get that plan ready…I warned you that this week one was full of plans.  

And trust me that as I write this, the to do list around here is growing.  Here’s what I have so far for our house.

We need to add mulch to our beds and deadhead some flowers. I have some pressure washing that needs to be done before cold weather makes itself at home. We need to clean out the gutters and washing at least a few windows {I’m not going over board on that one} mostly to get rid of cobwebs and other trash that have made a home on my windowsills.

There are several items that despite finding or making them a home last spring are still somehow lying around in the garage, along with some other odds & end picking up outside.

Here’s a few more tips sent to me by a home repair company not to long ago.

~Clean out gutters and downspouts. Inspecting gutters and downspouts for debris and fallen leaves can reduce the chances of an ice dam forming. An ice dam can cause leaks that will result in interior damage to your ceilings and walls. After you've cleared as many leaves as you can from your gutters, you can spray water down the downspouts to wash away any other debris. Gutter screens can help reduce the number of leaves that collect in your gutters. Exercise extreme caution when working on a ladder or on the roof.

~Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel tank is empty or discard of it properly. Gasoline left in the tank loses its volatile components over the winter, making your mower hard to start in the spring. By draining the tank, you are also removing flammable liquid storage from your garage. Make sure you aren't storing dirty, oily rags in a pile. They can ignite spontaneously.

~Prepare your furnace for the upcoming heating season. Consider calling a reputable local heating and cooling company to check your furnace, clean it, and prepare it for the upcoming winter. Keeping the furnace in good working condition will help reduce your heating bills and help avoid serious problems.

~Replace or clean your furnace filter. This will keep the air in your house cleaner, make your furnace more efficient, and help lower your heating bills

Are you asking what this has to do with Christmas preparations? Trying to get a repair man/company to our homes during Christmas can be difficult. Hopefully by checking on these now you can avoid some of these repairs, which can be costly...and have less stress not just during Christmas, but maybe all winter too!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Four Christmas Cards

Do you send Christmas cards? Do you prefer a traditional boxed card or perhaps a photo card?  Do you always send a card every year or every other year? I have friends that do it both ways. Now is the time to get the ball rolling on this one, if you haven’t already? 

Prefer a boxed card? For a better selection of boxed cards you may want to get those now before the choices are few. Will you purchase your photo card through one of the super cute websites or use Costco or Wal-mart to print your cards? Start looking now at their selection, it might be useful when you begin to plan clothing for the picture.

Since photos cards can be pricey taking the time to shop around could save you a lot of money. I know several sites are offering discounts right now on these.

Need inspiration? Not only are the photo card websites full of ideas so is Pinterest.  Maybe take a little time and look around {don’t get to bogged down with this, it’s so easy to do}.  Photo cards can become major productions if you let them.

How will you get your perfect picture? Will you use a collage of photos from through out the year? Will you hire a photographer? Have a friend take it or do it your self.

Having a professional take it can be less stressful, but will cost more. They book up fast this time of year, so get that appointment made soon. Doing it yourself can save a lot of money, but may take more of your time. You’ll need to plan not only the clothes but also location and props.

Who will you include in your picture? We always have our dogs so I have to be sure that they have a grooming appointment near picture time. Do you have kids away at school or maybe your children are as busy as mine and you have to schedule pictures around dance practice or some other activity time? Keep this in mind as you plan your photo opt.

So spend some time today deciding what direction you want or need for this year and develop your plan to get this going or finished up. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Thirty-one Days ~ Day Three Appointments

So glad you’re back.

If you’ll remember on day one I mentioned setting appointments. What does that have to with being ready for Christmas? We want a stress free holiday, so we need to cross those T’s and dot those I’s. I know that it may sound crazy but having appointments set will avoid all sorts of problems. Think about how busy and chaotic things can become, as Christmas gets closer because not only is Christmas coming but also the New Year. 

Think about all of the details we have to take care of before the end of the year; with or with out Christmas to celebrate.  Does anyone in your family need to see their doctor or dentist before the end of the year due to insurance needs or requirements?  

My darling hubby is diabetic and our dentist stays booked, so if we miss any of our scheduled appointments it can mess us up. Also stop to consider that a lot of people have met their deductibles and may want to get into the doctor one more time before the end of the year. It can be hard to see the doctor if you wait to long to make that appointment. I know that these things seem to slip my mind and around Thanksgiving I remember that we need to get an appointment before the end of the year and have had trouble getting one.

My husband and I have used the trip to the doctor, who’s in a bigger city about 45 minutes away as an excuse for a date night or even to finish up Christmas shopping during the holiday season.

So today will be short so that you can go look to see who needs to see the doctor or dentist and get a those appointments set now, not later when there are fewer choices…remember we want a stress free Christmas. 

~I hope you are enjoying the series and beginning to get ready for a stress free Christmas.

Be sure and take some time to enjoy some of the many other bloggers and the 31 Day series. There are so many great bloggers out there and they are so generous to share all of their great ideas and insight.

Thirty One Days - Day Two ~ DIY Projects

Ok so what’s next?

I have struggled with this. It was tempting to just create a list of 31 items on day 1 and basically sprint to the finish line, but that won’t work. Since the first few post need to consist of items that timing is imperative to, I think DIY projects will need to be addressed early {and crossed of the list or gotten out of the way}.

We all seem to get that driving force around this time of year to finally start or finish those projects around our home that we have declared necessary must do jobs. Why is that? I guess the thought of visitors’ planned and unplanned gets us motivated to act. Just be sure to proceed with real thought and consideration. Will you get those unfinished DIY projects completed, started or hide them out of sight until 2013; you decide.

Her are few questions to ask yourself to begin to evaluate your situation.

How important are these projects really?

Will it help during or near holiday time to have them completed?

Can they wait?

I have 3 on my list

-Repair a running toilet. We are fortunate to have a big house with lots of bathrooms. However with our layout, we have 3 floors {split-level house} and we have 1 bath on each level with the 3rd floor having 2, a guest and the master.  Here’s the rub if the ½ bath on the main floor is in use then I need this second bathroom available to send guest to. The guest bathroom up stairs is the best one for company. Honestly I’m just ready to have this off the “To Do” list around here, so this is a good excuse to get it repaired.

-Recover my dinning room seat cushions. This is a project that I’ve done before, so I know what to expect both time and materials wise. I recovered these chairs about 5 years ago, since then I’ve gone in a different direction with the room and what I choose doesn’t work anymore. Since I always host either Christmas Eve or Christmas day for our families I’d love to get this completed for this year.

-Shelves for my laundry room installed. I’ve contemplated for years what to do with the area of my laundry room opposite my washer & dryer; we installed some lower cabinet but left the top open. I love the open shelves look that’s so popular right now. I have cabinets on the opposite wall over my washer & dryer; I think 2 sets in this room would be too heavy. With the addition of shelves to that side of the room they should take center stage away from the washer dryer, they’ll be pretty & utilitarian to boot. Ballard Design has some that I just love, but at almost $300 they are out of my reach right now. I decided to go to a local home improvement center to price doing the job myself {or for my DH to do} and came in just under a $100. A pretty good savings and a project my son will love to help with. 

~ I promise to post a photo of my before and after if I am able to get this one.

Now if it comes down to choosing the bathroom will not get the axe, so it may be a coin toss between the other two items.

Ok what projects are swirling around in your mind?  Do you have any projects currently in the works? Can they be finished without making you or your life more nuts than it might already be? If you truly can’t finish it or it’s just not necessary then pack it up and put it away until next year. There’s no need to create extra stress, especially if it can be avoided.  If you can get it done now is the time, don’t wait finish it this month; you’ll love the satisfaction that it brings. Much success to you whatever you choose.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thirty-One Days ~ Day One Planning

Tomorrow starts the 31 days series courtesy of the Nester. I hope that you will join me for the next 31 days. We’ll prepare for the Christmas season with 31 Days to a More Enjoyable Christmas (less stressful). I’m excited and scared all at the same time.

This year when I was reminded of the 31 days series coming up, I felt a desire to participate. I’ll be honest and say that I’ll probably benefit more from this series than anyone else. 31 Days to a less stressful holiday hopefully will be the push we all need to get going and not put these items off. Hey that helps in the stress department right? I truly felt God nudging me to take part in this, to get me to write and to keep the commitment that the 31 days will require. He inspired me with a topic that not only could I use a gentle reminder in, but also that I have some idea about before I even began.

I remember growing up when Christmas decorations weren’t much more than a tree; yes just one tree. We had stockings maybe some Christmas candles on the mantle, a simple centerpiece on the dinning table and a wreath on the front door.  Most of these items were recycled year after year. We did have a real tree but I’m almost positive that other items were boxed up and brought back out year after year for years.

Now it seems that we have trees and lots of them some with themes; please know I have done this. One year we had six trees and most of them had a theme. Nativity scenes, villages, centerpieces, garland and bows are everywhere in our homes. There is very little of our homes and perhaps even our yards that aren’t decorated. There is a lot of time, money, and effort that goes into Christmas now. My neighbor has her trees up in mid-October and leaves them until the end of January. Whew!

I want us to first remember that Christmas has always been and should always be about the birth of Christ. No matter how you celebrate…big or small it’s about his birth and the best and perfect gift that he is. We need no other gift than that of our lord and savior.  Whatever your style or traditions I hope that you keep him first in your preparations and celebrations.

If your life is anything like ours each year there is more and more do to, especially if you have children. So with all of the activities, obligations and chores that the holiday season can bring, we can find ourselves overwhelmed sooner rather than later. With good planning Christmas can be not just manageable but enjoyable.

All of that said, I’m super thrilled to have you visit me. We will implement many of our plans and prep-work in October so we could be finished with many of the bigger projects by Thanksgiving. I pray that we all will find several useful and beneficial tips to have a more enjoyable and more meaningful stress free as possible!

A Plan ~ Day One 

I’m recommending for day one that you begin by mapping out your plans for the holiday. What activities do you know you need to include? 
Concerts, recitals, parties, traveling or guests coming in; you get the idea. 

However big or small the events have a plan. 

Decide what needs and commitments you will have and what provisions you will need to make and a then plan days to prepare or complete these. You will want to include days to clean; to shop; to bake and the alike on your calendar.

Start with some kind of calendar paper or your trusty phone. 

Look ahead to make appointments with yourself to be sure you have time to complete your goals and to help ensure that you don’t over extend yourself. Don’t feel guilty for making and keeping these appointments, you’ll be glad you did come December.

These first few post will include ideas for the different projects or needs you might have that require more thought and planning, many of which you may want to get started on if not accomplished within the 31 days, so we will start with those.

*Do you like my button? My sweet son who is 12 made it for me. He's never made one before, didn't even know what one was before I asked him to help me. I showed him a few, told him which ones were my favorites, what it needed to say and he went to work. He did a great job and almost gave me exactly what I envisioned, he did a good job and I'm thrilled to use it after all of his hard work.