Christmas Update

Let me catch you up. If you are following the Holiday Grand Plan over at Organized Christmas, week one of holiday preparations involves making lists and more lists.
In full disclosure, I’m already weeks behind! So I’m lumping several weeks in together now to play catch up.

I printed out the Grand Plan Calendar, so I can keep a visual reference handy. Here’s where I stand right now.

Week One: List Week (Entryway/Foyer) and Week Two: Question Week (Living Room) I combined these weeks because they seemed to ask the same questions. It was time to tackle Lists, Lists and more lists! I purchased a gift appand have actively started utilizing it. I seems to be working out pretty well so far. I’ve put lots of ideas in for people when I see them, but haven’t actually purchased anything yet. I also began making lists of homemade gifts. Who is getting what, how are they going to be packaged and how can I prepare things well in advance. Those were the biggest questions I needed to tackle.

Week Three: Entryway/Foyer
I don’t really have one, so that’s done. Holla! Although I would like to create a more functional entryway for the kids to hang backpacks and jackets and such.

Week Four: Master Bedroom
This is an ongoing battle for me. I did clean and organize much of my closet and some of my drawers to get rid of old clothes that could be either be donated or tossed. I also gave it a good dusting and no shampooed the carpet. I’m not too stressed about the state of my bedroom.

This week’s cleaning focus is the front porch: We’ll clean and organize the area around the front door so that our home will be ready to welcome visitors during the holiday

Week Five: Master Bath
Again, this is an on-going project. Really it’s just keeping it tidy. Since I have OCD when it comes to bathrooms, that’s not really an issue. You can sit your naked butt on any toilet in my house at a moments notice and feel pretty safe.

Where are you with your holiday plans?

Cookie of the Week – Chocolate Chip

It’s getting close to the kiddos going back to school. YAY! This summer has really flown by. The kids have had fun at summer camp, boating, swimming, doing crafts, gimp. Oh God, the gimp!

But it’s almost time to switch gears and start back to school shopping and thinking about getting organized and back on schedule. Hockey and gymnastics will be starting within the month, so getting things a little more organized is imperative to keep my sanity in check.

The kids take their lunches to camp every day, as they will for school. So, Sunday is our “get ready for the week” day. I buy giant bags of chips that we bag individually to quickly throw in with their sandwiches. I make a container of fluff to keep on-hand for fluffernutters, fruit gets washed and prepped and cookies get made. Yes, it would be easier to buy a bag of Oreos or Chips Ahoy, but since I can’t decipher the ingredients and they are pretty icky tasting (although I do love a milk-dipped Oreo now and then, who doesn’t!) I have been letting the kids decide what kind of cookies to make for the week.

That being said, welcome to the first installment of the Cookie of the Week series!

So far, we have made chocolate chip, tie-dye sugar cookies and oatmeal raisin.

Now who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie? Thin and crisp or thick and cakey. Nuts. No nuts. There are so many variations.
I do love these and for a quick fix, this beautiful thing.

But, we have decided that out of all the chocolate chip cookies we tried, the original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE cookie is by far our favorite. Hands down. So go grab yourself a bag of NESTLÉ® chips, an ice-cold glass of milk and enjoy a tried and true classic.

Happy back to school!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Recipe and photo courtesy of VeryBestBaking

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

No, I’m not kidding! I am counting down the days until Christmas. My inbox has been bombarded by Christmas in July sales, and it got me thinking about Christmas. Thank you corporate marketing.

Every December I feel the stress, as I am sure many of you do. There are cards to be sent, gifts to buy or bake or make, decorations to be put up and parties to attend. Each year it seems to get busier and more stressful. I always say I’m going to plan ahead, but never do. Which inevitably leaves me scrambling at the eleventh hour for gifts or groceries and whatnot.

I used to love the Christmas season. The past couple of years, it has just been a chore. I get tired, sick, cranky and short-tempered. I don’t have time to put together homemade gifts, bake cookies for the neighbors, attend a holiday party or just sit by the tree with the family and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. All of which I enjoy doing.

So, this year, with the help of all those nagging e-mails, I decided to tackle Christmas early. I am making lists and getting down to business. I found this plan and I think it is just the thing I need to keep me on track. There are weekly calendars, lists, lists and more lists. This plan offically starts in September, but I’m getting started now.

Reason being, I really want to put a lot of effort (not necessarily money) into my gifts this year. I also want to give myself a gift of being less stressed so I can plan some fun events with my family. Our kids are only young once. I want them to have fond memories as they grow. Not pictures of a frazzled, lunatic running around yelling at everyone. Not that I do this mind you, just sayin.

This week I am working on a complete gift list. Typically I scratch a list down somewhere and yes, then I lose it and start another one. I’m going hi-tech this year. Here is an article from December with a few gift giving apps I will check them out this week and give you my faves in a while. I always have my phone, so this should allow me to stay on top of things, so if I find the perfect gift for someone, I’ll know if I already purchased something, or it isn’t in the budget.

I also have a new jewlery making fetish, so I will be taking an online class at Craftsy.

So, if any of you out there would like to join me in my quest for a peaceful holiday season, let me hear it! I would love to know what some of your Christmas “to do” wishes are and how you all get ready for your holidays, especially homemade gift ideas.

Happy Holidays!

Bringing Home Baby

No, I do not have anything to share. PUH-LEAZE and NO THANK YOU!

I am sharing this post for a reason…I didn’t cook anything special to share with you. That’s right, everything I made this weekend was total, complete crap. So here is a non-foodie post for you.

I get upset when new recipes turn out bad. It makes me sad.

Maybe that’s why I was so emotional.

And because I was so emotional, I got sentimental.

I got sentimental because my 10 year old is now almost as tall as I am.

Which made me cry.

Which made me wish my almost as tall as me 10 year old was a little bitty baby again and I could hold him in my arms and rock him to sleep and sing him songs and nuzzle his face without being told to get away. Or at least wait until his friends leave.

I typcially don’t save a lot of things. But one thing that I made sure I kept was my kids “coming home” outfits. I kept them in a drawer and everytime I needed to remember how little they were, I would get them out of the drawer and stare at them for awhile until someone caught me blubbering or hugging clothes with no baby in them. My family may or may not think I’m nuts.

They’re not moms. They don’t get it.

They also don’t get hormonal. Not that I ever do.

Or cry at hockey games.

And recitals.

Or When Starbucks has just run out of petite vanilla scones.

They just don’t get it.

So, instead of keeping these special keepsakes tucked in a drawer, I decided to put them on display, lovingly hung on the wall in their play room.

Simply, place your baby’s outfit in a shadow box and pin it with decorative hat pins.

Don’t leave those special things in a drawer. They are special for a reason and deserve a place of their own where they can be enjoyed and cherished.


Org Junkie's 29 Day Challenge…Ready. Set. GO!

Today’s the day! I’m joining Org Junkie’s 29 Day Organizational Challenge. I have 29 days (thank God for Leap Year!) to get one room in my house organized. I’ll be linking up each week to show my progress. So stay tuned.

Now Let me tell you, I got clutter. Lots and lots of clutter. I think it’s hereditary, because my kids have it as well. But so does my husband, so they must get it from his side of the family. Yeah, that’s it.

The idea is to tackle one room that is need of an organizational overhaul. I may have one or more room that need a little tidying up. Ok, let’s face it, the entire house needs a hug. I need one of those professional organizers to come and spend a weekend with my family. You know the ones. They call you names and yell at you for keeping stuff. I may need that kind of tough love.

I have a tendency to take on a bit more than I can chew. Then, nothing gets done. Unless of course if you want to count the even bigger mess that I make while attempting to organize. So this challenge will be a perfect start for me. It will help me focus on one area. Then, March 1st, I can tackle another. Trust me, there will always be another.

So, I have decided to tackle our home office. It is actually my husband’s and my office. Or at least it started out that way. Now it has turned into the kids’ office. And sometimes they let us use it. If we’re good.

Here are some of the main issues that I’m going to address.

1. And most important…Kick out the children! This room ain’t big enough for the bunch of us! (in my best country western voice). It is the only way I can make this work. I will be moving the kids into our front living room area (or as the kids call it, the “video game room”) with a workspace all their own. This will free up our work area in the grown up office and allow us to maximize the time we spend there.

2. Reduce the paper clutter. It’s everywhere! I had purchased a Neat Receipt for my husband for Christmas. He hasn’t used it yet. So, I’m breaking that baby in. Anyone have one? I’d love to hear how you like it.

3. Mail organization. We are in desperate need of a system. Mail seems to get lost constantly. If it gets left on the counter, the cat eats it or it gets used as scrap paper. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to apologize for things being chewed up or had to explain the Hello Kitty stickers or the occasional grease stain.

4. Aesthetics. Let’s face it, who wants to spend time in a room that’s not pretty. Especially a room that you do such awful tasks in, like pay bills and do work. Yuck!

For the kids’ area. I am thinking of a long countertop for them to work at. With enough area to have their computers and still have space for projects. With no legs or drawers, there will be nothing for them to smash into as they roll around and it will allow them to move more freely if working on a larger project.

I would like to utilize the wall space for organizing since there are no drawers in the desk.

Again, I want it to be pretty. So, I’d like to find attractive ways to display their artwork and photos and such.

The first challenge link up is today with our “Before” picture. Since we don’t have to do this, I’m not going to. But you’ll see my mess soon. I promise.

Once I find my camera.

This is going to be tougher than I thought.