3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Chaos

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and knowing you’ve procrastinated (just a bit), what can you do right now to bring more joy and less stress to the holiday?  Remember, we want to avoid holiday chaos.  The answer could be discovering the ONE THING you want to accomplish with the preparation and the meal.  For me, that would be enjoying time with family and friends.  When I focus on this….and how long it will take to pull it all together…it’s time to get real and make a plan. 

Let’s take a look at some simple steps to avoid holiday chaos:

What can you easily accomplish in a week?

People typically come to a gathering for two reasons: food and fun.  So always keep this in mind when you’re planning your week.

Be realistic about the amount of time you can spend planning and preparing.  When you’re completely exhausted by the time you sit down to dinner, it’s hard to enjoy the meal and your guests.  Take it from me…been there, done that!  As you plan your meal, remember to delegate a dish or two to anyone who offers.  Your party will be easier that way.  

What should you buy? What should you DIY?

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Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself.  So you need to decide what can you buy and what can you realistically do yourself.  Costco, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market have delicious, prepared food that can fill in for side dishes you don’t have time to make.

This same mindset holds true for the table decorations.  Most of us dream of having our Thanksgiving table decorated with perfectly coordinated china, colorful linens, and beautiful centerpieces.  With a peaceful walk in the woods and a quick “shopping trip” around your own home, you can easily create a look that will wow your friends and family.

How to handle the clutter when guests are staying overnight?

I like being neat and tidy (most of the time), so a house full of overnight   guests, luggage, and cramped quarters can feel a little crazy and chaotic.

Some of the ways I’ve managed to keep clutter to a minimum is to make sure everyone has a designated area for their family’s “stuff”.  At my house  that means all coolers are stored in the room off the garage and toys are  kept all together.

Creating an out-of-the-way private space for guests to keep their suitcase will make them feel welcomed and keep the clutter to a minimum.

We all want the holiday to be a stress-free time.  We want our guests to feel like VIP’s.  And most of all, we want to create cherished memories that last a lifetime as we give thanks for all of our many blessings.

A Reminder of Thanksgiving

A Reminder of Thanksgiving

Calm 2We’ve been in our new home for almost two years now. Our lifestyle is different and we’ve made wonderful new friends. These days I spend most of my time on the same things as before…working on client projects, playing some tennis, and welcoming our friends and family. But before all of this, there was frustration, anger, and lots of impatience to move into our new home that we designed…..

It was one of those weeks.  You know, the kind of week where nothing seemed to go as planned.  Just when a little glimmer of joy appeared, another issue popped up that needed to be taken care of right away.  And then anger reared its ugly head!  I was definitely not the “positive, look-on-the-bright side” person I usually am.

 

Apple pie
I love decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  And I love baking goodies for the family dinners, like my grandma’s Dutch Apple Crumb pie… that everyone loves.  But we were packing to move, and pretty much everything was in a box.

Living among boxes piled one on top of the other was not how I wanted to spend the days before Thanksgiving. My desk was emptied, files were packed, and I was about to shut down the “command center” on my desk.  It was basically total chaos around our house!

 

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Baylee boxes
And then, as I was walking around feeling sorry for myself that life was slinging too many lemons my way, I looked up, and saw my sweet dog, Baylee, asleep on the floor.  She was totally relaxed among the boxes.  Her only need was to be by my side.  And it was then I realized that this moment was a gift from God. This moment was there to remind me about gratitude and being thankful for all of my many blessings.

And so began my daily ritual of writing down 5 things I’m grateful for. Because even if we carry these blessings in our minds for the day, somehow writing them down makes them seem real…and wonderful!

 

Thanksgiving blessings

Create a Welcoming Thanksgiving…The DIY Way

Create a Welcoming Thanksgiving…The DIY Way

Fall signWhen the weather turns cooler, and the skies are blue, suddenly I’m in the mood to start decorating my house for fall and Thanksgiving. Does this ever happen to you? The funny thing is that my creative juices start flowing this time of year, and I head to the woods to see what I can find.

For some reason, fall decorating brings out the urge to decorate with handcrafted items, in luscious colors of red, orange, gold, and purple. I guess it’s the anticipation of winter cocooning that makes me want to add a bit of country to my decorating. But I love the scents, the colors, and the textures.

So this week, thanks to Better Homes and Gardens website, I’ve discovered some doorways and table settings that I hope you’ll enjoy.

 

Fall entryMums, mums, and more mums!  I love how they’ve paired them with white pumpkins for contrast.

couchOpposites attract in this colorful arrangement.  Red/orange is across from this shade of blue on the color wheel, and make a perfect combination that pops!

vase with Fall flowersContainers can be created from what you have around the house.  Here, I’ve taken a ceramic vase and added willow branches, sunflowers, berries and leaves.

Chinese LanternsChinese Lanterns in bright orange/red add a pop of color to my mantel.

Fall 8Pumpkins, gourds and mums say “Welcome to our home”

Fall 7

Fall 5Create a simple table runner with ribbons down the center that can be changed with the seasons.  Add to it colorful leaves with pumpkins and gourds, and you have a beautiful Thanksgiving table arrangement in minutes.

Fall 6Even non-traditional containers can make out outstanding centerpieces.  I love the use of this globe to hold pine cones, nuts, and berries in this fall arrangement.

Fall 4A simple pumpkin trimmed with bittersweet.  Adding star anise and dried fruit as part of the grouping helps add a little bit of nature to the table.

Fall 2Everyday water glasses become centerpieces when you add these beautifully colored fall leaves.  By separating each color into their own container, you’re creating more interest to the grouping.  Remember to stagger heights whenever you can to let each piece stand out on its own.

Fall 3Pumpkins and colorful leaves.  It can be as simple as that.

Happy Decorating!!!!!

 

Pumpkin Mousse

How To Make Pumpkin Mousse

Thanksgiving begins the season of my urge to bake, and my curiosity to try recipes that are beautifully photographed in every magazine that I buy.  This year is no exception.  Since I love almost anything pumpkin, I’m anxious to try the yummy looking Pumpkin Mousse recipe that I found over at Country Living Magazine.  Of course, I wanted to share it with you, since cooking/baking is a major part of Life In the Kitchen!

Ingredients:  Serves 16

5 large egg yolks

1 C sugar

3 1/12 C heavy cream

15 oz. canned pumpkin

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tps ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

2 T dark rum

1 tsp powdered gelatin

3 oz. shaved dark chocolate

 

Directions:

1.  Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water and set aside.

2.  Whisk the yolks, 3/4 C plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and 3/4 C cream together in a medium saucepan.  Heat while stirring continuously with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon over medium-low heat, until thickened and the mixture coats the spatula–about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl and set over the ice bath.  Stir to cool.

3.  Add pumpkin, vanilla, spices, and salt to the egg mixture.  Stir 1 tablespoon rum and 1 tsp gelatin together in a small bowl.  Heat the remaining tablespoon rum, and stir in to the gelatin mixture until dissolved.  Gently whisk into the pumpkin mixture.  Beat 1/2 cup cream to stiff peaks, and fold into pumpkin mixture.  Pour into a shallow dish, cover an dchill until cold and thick enough to fall from a spoon in heavy dollops–about 8 hours or up to overnight.

4.  Beat the remaining cream and sugar to stiff peaks.  Alternately layer the pumpkin mousse and whipped cream in a glass serving dish.  Sprinke the chocolate shavings between top two layers.  Serve chilled.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!!!  May you always be greatful for the many blessings in your life.